From Cook's Country
This no-bake dessert is typically made by layering a mixture of instant vanilla pudding and Cool Whip between graham crackers and topping it with chocolate frosting. We loved the convenience of these store-bought items, but our enthusiasm waned when confronted by their flavor. With a couple of easy techniques (a quick stovetop pudding, whipped cream, and a microwave-and-stir glaze) and very little active time, we produced a from-scratch version that easily trumped its inspiration.
You can use 6 ounces of finely chopped semisweet chocolate in place of the chips.Ingredients
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
- 14 ounces graham crackers
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in large saucepan. Whisk milk into sugar mixture until smooth and bring to boil, scraping bottom with rubber spatula, over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, continuing to scrape bottom, until thickened and large bubbles appear on surface, 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer pudding to large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
2. Stir water and gelatin together in bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, 15 to 30 seconds. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip 2 cups cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture and whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
3. Whisk one-third whipped cream into chilled pudding, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream, 1 scoop at a time, until combined. Cover bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish with layer of graham crackers, breaking crackers as necessary to line bottom of pan. Top with half of pudding-whipped cream mixture (about 5 1/2 cups) and another layer of graham crackers. Repeat with remaining pudding-whipped cream mixture and remaining graham crackers.
4. Microwave chocolate chips, remaining 3/4 cup cream, and corn syrup in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Cover graham crackers with glaze and refrigerate cake for 6 to 24 hours. Serve. (Éclair cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
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Two Keys to Creamy Filling
Our filling combines custard and stabilized whipped cream.
1. Thicken Custard Just Enough Take the custard off the heat when large bubbles appear on its surface and leave a brief imprint.
2. Stabilize whipped cream Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks, stir in the softened gelatin, and continue whipping to stiff peaks.