Looking for something unique? These Old Bay Chocolate Eclairs are a combination of Old Bay spiced pastry, cream, potato chips and chocolate. A mash up of some of my favourite flavours and spices - a bit of an ode to my Maryland roots. The ultimate Old Bay dessert recipe!
Tell me about this recipe
- Chocolate and Old Bay - these eclairs use an unconventional flavor pairing to give a warming spiced chocolate finish to a delicate pastry treat. These are salty sweet and hard to beat!
- Crisp and crunchy homemade spiced pastry - make your own crisp classic choux pastry with a punch of Old Bay seasoning. You can use store bought choux in this recipe, but you'll miss out on extra Old Bay in the pastry.
- Spiced pastry cream made from scratch - these eclairs don't just have Old Bay in the pastry shells, the cream filling is also packed with spice. This balances the sweetness of creme patissiere and working well with vanilla.
- Crab chips - finish these eclairs off with crab seasoned potato chips for an added crunch along with the milk chocolate glaze.
Old Bay and Chocolate
The combination of Old Bay and chocolate might seem odd at first - a savoury seasoning and a sweet treat! But actually, this is a completely logical pairing.
Chilli is frequently used with chocolate - the two working together to compliment each other. Old Bay seasoning has the warming spice of chilli and accentuates the chocolate flavours while adding a bit of a kick from the mix of different spices.
Ingredient Notes for Old Bay Pastry Cream
- Milk - you'll want either full fat or whole milk. The fat content in the milk is important to a thick and cream creme patissiere. It is possible to use 2% or semi-skimmed here, but the consistency of your pastry cream may suffer and be a bit runny.
- Vanilla bean paste - I'm a huge fan of vanilla bean paste. It packs loads of flavour while also adding the speckled vanilla seeds to your cream, which always looks fancy. You can substitute with vanilla extract here though without any issue.
- Egg - large eggs, ideally at room temperature. You'll need a combination of yolks and a whole egg to get the rich creamy consistency for this custard.
- Sugar - superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar will work in this recipe.
- Cornstarch - a bit of cornstarch (called cornflour in the UK) will help to thicken the pastry cream.
- Old Bay seasoning - the star of the show! I'm a Marylander, so Old Bay is basically in my blood. It is possible to make a DIY Old Bay spice mix, but it takes a bit of effort and quite a few different spices. I'd recommend sourcing Old Bay itself for this recipe.
Ingredient Notes for Choux
The choux pastry in this recipe follows the same general ingredients and process as the choux in my Maple Praline Eclairs. The key addition here is Old Bay Seasoning added straight to the pastry.
- Butter - unsalted butter. This doesn't need to be soft or at room temperature as it will be melted in a saucepan, cooking with the flour.
- Sugar - either superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar will work in this recipe.
- Flour - a combination of all purpose flour (or plain flour) and bread flour.
- Old Bay seasoning
- Eggs - large eggs, ideally at room temperature. You may not need all of the eggs called for in this recipe. You'll be looking to reach a smooth dropping consistency with the batter.
Ingredient Notes for the Chocolate Old Bay Chip Topping
The inspiration for these Old Bay Eclairs comes from Milk Chocolate Crab Potato Chip Clusters, made by the Baltimore chocolatier Wockenfuss. These spicy salty sweet crunchy chocolate treats are one of my favourites and perfect if you like the complex combination of spice with chocolate.
To make the topping for these eclairs, which really brings it all together, you'll need just two ingredients (or three depending on where you live!):
- Chocolate - I use milk chocolate in this recipe, but you can use semi-sweet or dark chocolate. This should either be chips or solid chocolate chopped into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the easier the melting process.
- Old Bay Chips - depending on where you live, you can buy store bought Crab Chips, which are essentially Old Bay flavoured chips. Or, if you're unable to find these, you can make your own. To make your own Crab Chips, use plain salted potato chips and Old Bay seasoning to taste.
How to Make Old Bay Chocolate Eclairs
The base recipes for crème pâtissière and the choux are essentially the same as I used for my Candied Maple Pecan Éclairs, with the exception of flavouring. In both cases, the process remains the same, but Old Bay spice is added.
Old Bay Creme Patissiere
Start by making your creme patissiere:
- Heat milk and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a heatproof jug, whisk your egg, yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until smooth.
- Once the milk has come to a boil, pour this slowly into your egg mixture, whisking continuously to temper your eggs.
- Immediately pour this back into your saucepan and continue to cook, whisking constantly until thickened.
- When the custard is thickened, take this off the heat and add in the Old Bay.
- Pour the crème pâtissière into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard, to prevent a skin forming.
- Chill for a couple of hours or up to 3 days.
Old Bay Pastries
These are exactly the same recipe as my Maple Pecan Eclairs, with the exception that Old Bay seasoning is added to the dry ingredients.
- Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and prepare a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Measure out the flours and add a teaspoon of Old Bay. Set this aside while you melt butter, salt, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once this comes to a boil, tip in your seasoned flours and beat fiercely with a wooden spoon.
- Keep beating until a dough begins to form and continue to beat for a couple of minutes to cook out the flour.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and beat until the dough stops steaming.
- Next, add your eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly to incorporate each after the addition. You may only need two eggs - you are looking for a particular consistency for your dough that will hold shape, but slowly and smoothly drop off of the spoon.
- Once the dough is ready, transfer this to a piping bag fitted with a .5" (1.5cm) nozzle and steadily pipe out your éclairs onto your prepared tray. Brush with an egg wash and bake for 30 minutes, until golden.
- Turn off the oven and leave the pastries inside for a further 30 minutes as the oven begins to cool before removing and finishing cooling on a wire rack.
- To assemble your Old Bay eclairs, start by cutting small holes in the base of your pastries - one towards each end. This will help you to fill the éclairs evenly with your crème pâtissière.
- Next, remove the custard from the fridge and beat a bit to loosen - bringing it back to a smooth pipeable consistency. Put this into a piping bag fitted with a nozzle slightly smaller than the one you previously used for the pastry piping (I used a 1cm fluted one to help in inserting this into the cuts). Pipe into each side of the pastries until you have a good amount of filling in the éclairs.
Topping and Decoration
Start by crushing your Crab Chips - if you've not got Crab Chips see my notes below on making your own.
You're not aiming to make the potato chips into a powder, but you will need fairly small flakes to sprinkle over your éclairs.
Put your chocolate into a small heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Take care that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl as this will impact the tempering process. Stir the chocolate with a spatula until melted and smooth. Then dip your pastries into the melted chocolate to coat the tops and sprinkle with your crushed potato crisps.
Voilà, the Old Bay Éclair! If you like the melding of salty, spicy and sweet, and particularly if you are already a fan of Old Bay, I would highly recommend trying this out.
- Leaving the choux pastries to cool in the oven after baking will help ensure these are as dried out as possible. This will make them easier to fill with your pastry cream.
- This recipe lets you season to taste - you can use more or less Old Bay depending on your personal preferences. For the creme patissiere, I'd say add about one teaspoon of Old Bay to start if you're unsure on the flavour. I recommend 2 teaspoons in my recipe.
- Drawing guiding lines for your piping will be helpful in providing consistently sized éclairs. I have this set of silicon mats from Amazon which includes an eclair template.
- When piping eclairs, these can be spaced fairly close together - they should puff up, but they shouldn't spread significantly into each other.
How to Make Your Own Crab Chips
If you don't have access to store bought crab chips, you can easily make your own version. Crab Chips are essentially just potato chips flavored using seafood seasoning to mimic the spicing you'd get when you eat a Maryland steamed crab.
To make your own crab chips for this recipe, crush salted potato chips as directed in this recipe. Then add Old Bay, stirring to coat them in the seasoning. The amount here is really dependent on taste. I used a bit more than a teaspoon for my DIY Crab Chips.
Absolutely! Old Bay seasoning is a traditionally savoury spice mix used with seafood dishes and famous as a Maryland crab seasoning. Don't let it's traditional use restrict you! Old Bay is a powerful spice mix and great to experiment with. It works particularly well with chocolate - much like chilli chocolate, where the spice of different herbs and chillis compliments the richness and depth of chocolate flavour.
These eclairs are best eaten freshly made and assembled. The different parts can be made in advance - for example the choux can be baked and then cooled and frozen for up to three months and the creme patissiere can be made up to 3 days before using.
The eclairs shouldn't be assembled in advance of serving. The cream will require these to be chilled and the refrigerator will cause the pastry to stale. This along with the cream filling will make the eclairs soggy.
You can eat leftovers - these will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two - but they won't be at peak condition.
Looking for more salty sweet flavours? Try:
- No Bake Potato Chip Cookies
- Potato Chip Brownies
- No Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake
- Salted Caramel Turtle Brownies
Old Bay Chocolate Eclairs
Ingredients for Crème Pâtissière
- 1 cup full fat milk or whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 whole large egg
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 2½ tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Ingredients for Choux
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup bread flour
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ cup water
- 3 large eggs + 1 egg for glazing before baking
Ingredients for Decoration/Assembly
- 4 oz milk chocolate
- ½ cup Crab flavoured potato chips crushed, or make your own (see note)
Directions for Crème Pâtissière
- Start with your milk and vanilla bean paste in a medium sized saucepan, Bring this to a boil over a medium-high heat, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, in a separate heat proof bowl, whisk together egg, yolks, sugar and cornstarch.
- Once your milk has boiled, pour this slowly into the egg mixture tempering your eggs. Once whisked together, pour this back into the pan over medium heat and whisk until thickened (about 5 minutes).
- Take off the heat and add any flavourings - in this case, 2 teaspoon of Old Bay (or less/more to taste). Pour this into a separate bowl and cover with cling film (the film should be placed directly on the surface of the custard to help prevent a skin forming). Refrigerate for about 2 hours before using (and up to three days).
Directions for Choux
- For your choux pastry, pre-heat the oven to 350°F 175C/155C Fan) and line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone baking mat. For consistency in your finished product, you can pre-draw guiding lines onto the underside of the parchment for your eclairs - mine were about 3.5" (8cm) long, spaced 1.5" (3cm) apart.
- Begin by measuring out your flours and adding Old Bay seasoning to this. Set aside.
- Place the butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add the water to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, tip in your seasoned flours and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Continue mixing over the heat for a couple of minutes to help cook the flour out, then tip the mixture into a medium bowl and continue beating until it finishes steaming.
- Once the dough has stopped steaming, you should add your eggs one at a time, mixing with the wooden spoon until incorporated after each addition. You may not need all three eggs, but you are looking for a smooth, dropping consistency of batter. Once this has been reached, put your batter into a piping bag, fitted with a nozzle about .5" (1.5cm) wide.
- Pipe out steadily in lines on your parchment paper. Brush with some beaten egg to help develop a golden colour and place in the oven to bake. Once risen and lightly golden (about 30 minutes), turn off the oven and leave inside for another 30 minutes to help dry out. Then remove and leave to cool on a baking rack.
Directions for Assembly
- Now that all of your elements are ready, you are set to assemble the éclairs. Begin by using a sharp knife to cut two holes in the bottom of each éclair near either end. These will help you to fill the pastries more evenly.
- Next, revive your crème pâtissière - beating this for a couple of minutes to loosen it and then prepare a piping bag with a slightly smaller nozzle than the one you used for piping the choux (I used a 1cm).
- Take each éclair and pipe some of the crème pâtissière into each of the two holes in the bottom - aiming to fill the hollow within the pastry.
- In a small bowl, crumble up your crisps to small pieces. Set aside.
- Place your chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler if you have one). Melt this down, stirring until smooth.
- Coat the tops of each eclair with the chocolate and sprinkle over a good layer of the crisps.