This no-bake dessert is a fun and easy twist on a traditional eclair. Homemade vanilla pudding layered with graham crackers and topped with a smooth chocolate ganache. When you want all the flavor of a French pastry without all the work.
If you’ve ever seen a recipe for an eclair cake before you might have noticed that they often use boxed pudding, cool whip, and/or canned chocolate frosting. Our recipe uses all homemade components (with the exception of the graham crackers) for the very BEST flavor and texture.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Flavor: Vanilla pudding and chocolate ganache with sweet graham crackers.
Ease: Quicker and easier than making eclairs.
No bake: No need to turn on your oven. No baking involved and only a small amount of “cooking” for the stovetop pudding.
Homemade components: Making this version taste superior to others.
Very little hands on time: Under 30 minutes of actual “work”.
Make-ahead: This recipe should be fully prepared and then placed in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours.
Start by making the stovetop pudding (we use a variation of our go-to Vanilla Pudding). Once prepared, place in the refrigerator for several hours to chill.
Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar and fold into the chilled pudding.
Layer graham crackers and pudding in an 8×8 baking dish (beginning and ending with graham crackers).
Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream. Pour over the top layer of graham crackers and spread into an even layer. Place in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours.
Stovetop pudding: Watch it closely, and whisk occasionally to keep it from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan.
Graham crackers: I recommend starting with a full 14-oz box of graham crackers for this recipe. You won’t need all of them, but it will give you some wiggle room if some of the crackers are broken or if you need to break up several to fit into the pan. Try to use as many whole graham sheets as possible.
Chill time: The longer this sits in the fridge the softer it will be. The graham crackers will soften and absorb the custard over time.
Serving and storage
This eclair cake should be be stored in the refrigerator and served chilled. It is best within 4-12 hours of assembly. It will keep for up to 48 hours but the texture will get very soft over time.
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- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups whole or 2% milk
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 14 oz box graham crackers, see note
- Begin by making the vanilla pudding filling. In a medium saucepan whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and egg yolks. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally (every minute or two), until the mixture is bubbling all throughout. Once bubbling, continue cooking for 1-2 additional minutes, whisking occasionally, and making sure that the pudding isn't burning on the bottom of the pan. At this point the pudding should be thickened but still pourable (it will thicken more as it cools).
- Immediately whisk in butter and vanilla. If you notice any lumps, pour through a fine mesh sieve. Transfer to a bowl and cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the pudding and refrigerate until chilled completely, at least 3 hours or even overnight.
- Once the pudding has chilled: use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to whip ½ cup chilled heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Remove the pudding from the fridge. Vigorously stir or whisk the pudding until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the pudding until fully combined.
- Line the bottom of an 8×8 square baking dish with a single layer of graham crackers, breaking some if necessary to fit. Add one third of the pudding mixture (I just eyeball it) and spread into an even layer. Repeat with another layer of graham crackers, half the remaining pudding, another layer of graham crackers, all the remaining pudding, then one final layer of graham crackers. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the topping.
- Add chocolate chips and remaining ¾ cup heavy cream to a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring well in between, until smooth and fully melted. Cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Pour over the top layer of graham crackers and smooth into an even layer. Refrigerate for 4-12 hours*, then serve.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.
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