Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Chocolate Eclairs

The Boys on the Hill
 Saturday was a beautiful day here in the Black Hills. We went to visit the Boys (actually, this time we only waved from the road - the place was packed), and went hiking in the "Wrinkled Rocks" area on the backside of Mt. Rushmore.

Yes, we did a lot of strenuous hiking and climbing. Fall is almost here - do you see the yellow leaves on that Aspen?
Fudge. Always fudge.
 After hiking we drove into Keystone for lunch.

No, not Keystone, Colorado. This is the Keystone that has a population of thousands from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then from October to May the place shuts down - all except the taffy shop and the post office. You know, the important places!

We enjoyed sandwiches, people watching, and my daughter found a birthday present for her friend...

And motorcycles. A constant here all summer long.
Souvenir stores and restaurants. Are we in a tourist town?

And of course we went to the taffy shop :)

When we got home - hours and miles later, with loads of laundry waiting for me - I got ready to make a special dessert for Sunday, the official last day of summer around here.

School starts on Tuesday for our younger boys. College. Living at home. Schedule change and lots of money spent (theirs, not ours - we provide room and board, they take care of tuition). One is a freshman and the other is a sophomore. Our "first day of school" days are numbered!

So I made the Easy Chocolate Eclair recipe we were talking about here at the Cafe last week. It's the perfect special dessert for those days when you're pressed for time and energy.

Here's the recipe:


1 (8 oz). tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 large (6 servings) box vanilla instant pudding
3 cups milk
1 (16 oz.) box graham crackers


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the whipped topping, pudding and 3 cups milk. Place a layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish (you can break them apart to fit), then cover with 1/2 of the pudding mixture. Repeat, and then add a third layer of graham crackers. (I never use all the graham crackers).

Now for the topping. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together sugar, cocoa and 1/3 cup milk just until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into a medium mixing bowl and cool, stirring often.

Hint: this is your time to change the laundry, or read a book, or take a cat-nap...

 Once it's cool, pour evenly over your eclairs. The topping will ooze its way around until the whole surface is covered.

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. IF there are any leftovers, store in the refrigerator.

This is a great make-ahead for covered dish dinners. Once you make it, the only problem you have is keeping people from sneaking tastes ahead of time :)

And yes, you can substitute ingredients! If you make homemade pudding, use 3 cups and then don't use the 3 cups milk. Whipped cream can be substituted for the whipped topping - I think you'll need about 4 cups.

I've also had this made with Club crackers instead of graham crackers. They give it a very different, kind of sweet/salty taste.

Now, what about those boys who are starting school tomorrow?
The Sophomore

The Freshman (aka Drackler)

Off to the future...


  1. Oh I'm all teary eyed at the pictures. Where does the time go?! Just love a toddler in overalls!!!

    And THANK YOU for posting this recipe! I couldn't imagine how you could turn eclairs into something quick and easy but you did! Definitely trying this on the weekend 'cause I have a barbeque to go to!

    1. Kav, this dish is perfect for a barbeque! Whenever I take it anywhere, it's the first thing to disappear.

      And yes, I get teary eyed at the pictures, too. I'm so thankful for all four of our children, but dagnabbit, do they have to grow up so fast?

    2. Oh, this was just wonderful.... I don't care a fig about the recipe, I'm just sighing over those kids!

      Lovely, Jan! What a wonderful family, and yes, it goes by too fast...

      But there's a nice feeling of peace once they're all successfully launched.

      And then re-launched the second time...

      And then the THIRD time, LOL!

      We've had the move ins, move outs, back and forth. Family's got to stick together in tough times.

      Can I eat this whole thing myself? Because I really want to.

  2. I loved the pictures of the your boys! I know you must be so proud of them! I enjoyed the weekend pics too.
    Thank you for this yummy looking recipe. The only problem is going to be leaving it alone for 12 hours! But I', definitely making this.

    1. Donna, the one consolation about having to wait to eat this is that you get to clean out the bowl. Just a bit of a taste ahead of time...

  3. Jan, you're going to make me WANT to make this. Shame on you.

    My recipe is identical, except for the topping. I just use a can of chocolate frosting, pop it in the microwave for 1 minute and then pour it over the top. However, if I didn't have a can of frosting, your recipe would save me a trip to the store, so it's going in as an addendum to my recipe :-)

    Precious boys, by the way. Sigh. They grow up so fast. However, I'm really glad school FINALLY started back up today. Now maybe I can actually accomplish something!

    1. Oh, and I think it's funny you call Rushmore "the boys on the hill." I just called them George, Tom, Teddy, and Abe when we lived up there. We were there so often we just had to be on a first name basis:-)

      And I LOVE Keystone! Fun little town. If you're coming to conference, feel free to bring me some of that taffy :-)

    2. Mindy, I'll try to bring some taffy. Who knows what goodies I can get through security, though? (And I'm not talking about TSA - I mean the security at home...)

      Sad story - we were leaving Mt. Rushmore one day this summer and passed by a family just coming out of the parking lot, right there where you get your first really good view. Their 14-year-old or so daughter stopped and looked up, squinted, sighed, and said, "I think one of them is George Washington, right?"

      I hope she was a BIT more enthusiastic by the time they left...

  4. Jan, this looks amazing!!! (How many days a week do I say that on this blog?? LOL But it's true each time I say it!)

    I love the photos! LOL I have a few photos of my boys riding little kid rides or animal statues just like that. What is it about boys that they have to do those crazy poses? :)

    1. Missy, what's really funny is that is the photo he chose as his "official" senior picture (he sent one a LITTLE more formal to his grandparents). One advantage of homeschooling - this picture will never be in a year book, just plastered all over the internet :)

    2. Jan, I'm going to email you my middle child's latest goofy photo. I think you'll get a kick out of how similar it is. :)

    3. Boys and goofy photos... It's intrinsic!

  5. wow this sounds good! and ..sigh..I have to admit I hav no idea who's on mt rushmore..I've at least heard of it but heck I'm not even sure which state it's in except 'up north'..I have no idea what they taught me in school..hopefully with my friend's 4 yr old I can learn along with him!

    1. Susanna, you must be a native Texan.

      My theory is that Texans have so much in their own state that they really don't think too much about the rest of the country. Texas is kind of a country all on its own.

      And I've never had any arguments from native Texans when I've said that!

      FYI - Mt Rushmore is in South Dakota (aka, up north), and the four presidents are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. It was carved out of this solid granite mountain in the 1930's by Gutzon Borglum, who also carved Stone Mountain in Tennessee.

      Three million people visit Mt. Rushmore every year. 3 MILLION! I see them, but I still can't conceive of that many people. One time when we were up there my son counted 10 different languages he heard being spoken by other visitors.

    2. LOL I was just thinking Ihad enough here to keep track of! but I probably don't know much about Texas either and yep I'm a native Texas. I miss east Texas a lot - don't like the land here in Houston - too flat and too many hurricane threats. I did think it over and turns out I was almost right about mt rushmore- I guess north dakota(had dakota right!) and had lincoln and washington and jefferson..forgot ol' teddy boy! I really do need to travel some one of these days.

      I still find it unbelievable when I read about people not knowing New Mexico is a state but I guess if you don't live near it you don't really think much about it!

    3. LOL - when we lived in Texas, we were in west Texas, so to me Houston IS east Texas!

      But then, we lived in Abilene, which seems like it should be central Texas.

      I just go with what people tell me. You just don't mess with Texas.

  6. WOW! Such great photos!!! And sweet, sweet pics of the kids. *sigh* How wonderful it is to look back and see how much they've grown.

    YUM. I did not need this recipe today. We've got fresh peaches and I'm trying to be healthy but all I want is your eclairs!!!

    1. Just enjoy the virtual, Virginia! I have to deal with the two servings left in the fridge.

      No one will miss a smidgen, will they?

  7. Recipe sounds great! Question...Is there a Stone Mountain in TN, Jan!?!?! There is in GA. I live about 90 miles away.
    Always enjoy your posts/recipes!!

    Jackie S.

    1. So sorry, Jackie! You're right, it's in Georgia. Isn't it near Tennessee, though?

      Oh, I just looked it up. I was thinking it was closer to Chattanooga.

      But then I'm from the north. All those southern states are the same, right? ;D