A Southern Grace: well, i do eclair!

April 15, 2015

well, i do eclair!


I may or may not have had a birthday recently.

I definitely did have a birthday cake.

While I almost always make my own birthday cake rather than pay someone else to do it or *gasp* skip it completely (I shudder at such a terrible thought!), I like to mix it up--I've been known to go big, keep it simple, and everything in between. As is often the case, we celebrated both my birthday and Easter with this cake, but that's okay--I'm happy to share.

You've probably eaten this cake before, if I may be so bold as to even refer to it as a cake. It's essentially layers of graham crackers and vanilla pudding fluffed with Cool Whip and topped with a chocolate ganache. Yes, it's reminiscent of a chocolate eclair, but in my opinion, SO much better. As I make it, the pudding component is the majority of the bulk, where an eclair is mostly pastry. To each her own, but I prefer the pudding. Lots of people who make this use a thicker chocolate frosting, but my mamster always used this thinner boiled ganache, and it's what I still like.*

*Especially if it's made correctly. Apparently, I didn't start timing at the ROLLING boil for this batch of frosting and therefore ended up with an undercooked ganache that became sticky and tacky and troublesome. Still delicious, but a pain in the derrière.

DEE-stroyed. DEE-molished.  But what DEE-licious carnage.

This is another in a long list of desserts that just gets better with age (much like yours truly, you might say). I always appreciate desserts like that--they help me improve my patience and strengthen my willpower. As birthday cakes go (or any cakes, for that matter), you could do much worse than the combination of creamy vanilla pudding, softened graham crackers, and rich chocolate ganache!

Chocolate Eclair Birthday Cake for Easter
Fills a 13x9-inch pan
  • 1 (1-pound) box graham crackers
  • 2 (3-1/4-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 (16-ounce*) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine pudding mixes and milk; briskly whisk or beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Gently fold in the whipped topping.
Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish, then spread a layer of graham crackers onto the bottom.
Spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers, then top with another layer of graham crackers.
Spread the remaining pudding over those crackers; top the second pudding layer with another layer of crackers.
Refrigerate until chilled--this will help the ganache firm up properly.
To make the ganache, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt together the sugar, milk, and cocoa.
When the mixture comes to a ROLLING boil, begin timing for one minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, salt, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Let the mixture cool for a few minutes before pouring it onto the chilled eclair cake, spreading evenly over the exposed crackers.
Refrigerate at least a few hours, but the longer, the better.

*Most recipes call for 8 ounces of whipped topping. That's probably the better way to go--the pan won't be so close to overflowing and the structure will be a little firmer. Whatever, I love me some Cool Whip.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Heavenly! Happy belated Birthday.



Marjie said...

If you make your own birthday cake, then (a) you get exactly what you want, and (b) no one forgets your birthday. Happy birthday, Grace!

Unknown said...

This is an absolute "must have" for me. I have never tried ganache before, but will give it a try. Keeping my fingers crossed!!!
BTW... hope you had a great b'day!!!

Juliana said...

I love this no bake cake...and yes, lots of vanilla pudding in between...
Happy Belated Birthday Grace...have a great day :)

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday! It is great to hear someone else prepares their own birthday dessert and it may not be a traditional cake...we should start a club!

This looks delicious. I have it on my list to prepare!

Angie's Recipes said...

Happy belated Birthday!
Using graham crackers to make birthday cake is a genius!

Marcela said...

Happy belated Birthday! I love this genius cake! Must be delicious!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

Hope you had a birthday as wonderful as this cake! xo

Pam said...

I have never had this type of cake before... I want it now! Creamy, crunchy, and chocolatey - oh yes!

Happy belated birthday Grace!!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Happpy Biiiiirrthdaayy to yoouu Grace! I've never tried this cake before but it sounds fantastic. We have a similar cake here in Australia using cookies and it's good but simpler-I suspect this is even nicer! :D

Savor The Baking said...

Happy Belated Birthday Grace! I love all things Eclair. :-)

Joanne said...

Happy belated birthday!! I'm so glad we both agree that no birthday is complete without cake. This looks so good!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

Happy Birthday to you!!! I love your cake! I have seen variations of the recipe many times, but have never tried it. I've even bought the ingredients, but always end up creating something else with them. Maybe I should make it to celebrate your birthday??!!

Katerina said...

Happy belated birthday Grace! This is a totally indulging cake and I wouldn't wait until birthday to enjoy it!

Beth said...

Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Grace! Love the post - especially the title. What a fun cake!

Anonymous said...

eclairs are one of our favorites and so is a delicious vanilla whipped cream topped birthday cake....two joyous treats in a single dessert is a dream come true...the family's list of birthdays are over but we will be preparing this just for tasting its dreamy good taste,thanks :-)

Erica said...

simple and delicious cake,Grace! happy Birthday!

I Wilkerson said...

Cutest post title EVER! (And I know how much a name means to you!)

Heather's Looking Glass said...

Happy late birthday!

Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder said...

yummy - I definitely relate haha, I also make my own birthday cake/dessert each year (better than store bought!)

This has all my favorite ingredient - eclairs are my guilty pelasure ^__^

Elizabeth @ Bowl of Delicious! said...

I can't figure out which is better- this delicious recipe, or the title of this post! Very clever :-) Looks amazing, and happy birthday!

Valentina said...

This looks delicious! Pinned! :)

Linda@2CookinMamas said...

Hope you had a Happy Birthday! Love your clever title - really makes my mouth start to water when someone mentions eclairs! But I have to admit, more pudding rather than pastry would be like icing on the cake (oops eclair). How about a Banana Split Cake for next year?