Monday, August 29, 2016

A Favorite Recipe: Easy Chocolate Eclairs

This was my back-to-school post from four years ago. Time certainly flies fast, doesn't it?

Those same boys who went off to college then started their senior+ years last week. There's something about my kids...they never finish college in only four years. They add on second majors, or a minor, or change their majors, but at least they're employable when they're done...I think....

Anyway, this recipe is requested around our house at least a hundred times more often than I make it. We have a church dinner coming up soon, so I pulled out this recipe to take with me. I think I'll make a double batch!


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...

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:


  1. Oh, what a sweet, lovely post! In all the ways, so sweet.

    I had to laugh at the "never in four years" comment. My older sister took seven because she got married and had a baby. My next older brother took 4.5 because he went from East coast to West to East again. My next older brother was the winner at close to nine years. He had his engineering degree in five, but then went into physics, then back to engineering, then combined the two for his advanced degrees. I took 3 but added another major and a minor... and then went right into grad school at 20. We were joking the other day when we all met up at the beach that we think we're actually, thoroughly done! Now are kids are starting that journey.

    However long it takes, an education is irreplaceable. I love seeing my girls all grown up and starting this new phase, but I'm glad I still have little kids to nurture on their way through homeschooling!

    1. You're right about education being irreplaceable. However you acquire it - formal school, on-line classes, or self-directed reading (also known as a library card and a good reading list) - it is worth all of the time and energy you pour into it. :)

      Enjoy homeschooling those little ones! Their childhood disappears like sand between your fingers...

  2. P.S. Those little boy pictures in counterpoint to the tree and triceratops men just slay me. Time just flies by...

  3. Yup. Oldest did it in 4. Youngest did it in 5 because she switched schools and had to start over, but then two years after graduation she decided to become a teacher so she had to go back to undergrad to take ed classes to be able to get into a Masters Degree program.

    Ack! I just yesterday threw out a box of those graham crackers that had been sitting around forever because no one was eating them. Too bad. My husband loves eclairs!

    Thanks for sharing all the photos, Jan.

    1. College in four years? Hmmm. College in four years. *scratches head* I suppose it's possible to do it that way... ;)

      We have plenty of graham crackers around, left from the s'mores bar at our daughter's wedding. We had intended to enjoy our outdoor fireplace this summer to make s'mores, but the lack of rain in the beginning of the summer and then the nearly-daily afternoon rainstorms through August nixed those plans.

      So we have a lot of graham crackers. A lot. :)

  4. Jan, this looks amazing!! It looks similar to what people around here call Chocolate Delight. I can't wait to try making it!

    I hope you had a great conference! Ruthy said y'all had a great time. :)

    1. We had a wonderful time, but we missed you! I hope we can catch up next time.

      This dessert is so delicious. I could - but I won't - eat an entire pan at one sitting.

      I won't. I would be sorry. ;)

  5. I LOVE taffy shops, Jan. So many flavors to choose from. And the taffy is soft and chewy, not hard and sticking your teeth together.

    I have a recipe very similar to this one and I love it for the very reason that it does taste like chocolate eclairs. Of course, this is also the reason I don't make it very often, because I will eat it all. And I mean ALL.

    So great to see you at conference. Have you recovered yet? I know I slept like a rock last night.

    1. And this taffy shop in Keystone makes the BEST! I like all of their flavors, even the cactus one.

      I have not yet recovered from conference - it took me 14 hours to get home, and most of that time was sitting in airports. Fell into bed at midnight, and still felt like I had to keep awake so I wouldn't miss my plane...

      Oh well. I can sleep tonight!

      It was great seeing you, too, Mindy!

  6. I must make it this time round! 'Cause it looks yummy and I believe I'll have more group things to go to this fall so I'll have something interesting to take with me.

    And too funny because my daughter is going back for her Masters this year. All paid for through scholarships and TAing, thank goodness. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree which will take you nowhere these days. Businesses and government departments were downsizing when she graduated so she's been working in a coffee shop for a couple of years. This is her last work week and she has been counting the days down as if it were Christmas. In fact I think she made an end of work advent calendar. LOL She's that ready to move on.

    1. School is so much more fun when you can't wait to go! I hope she enjoys her Masters program!