Eclairs are a treat well worth making if you have a little bit of time to spend in the kitchen. The pastries have a crisp choux exterior and are filled with vanilla pastry cream, then topped with fondant or chocolate ganache. The multi-component dessert is wonderful when it is at its best, though the components are simple. Like many multi-component desserts, however, we’re always looking for ways to simplify them and get our fix faster. Visiting a French pastry shop that is well-stocked with fresh eclairs is one way to satisfy a craving, but the pastries aren’t all that easy to find at bakeries. Trader Joe’s helpfully steps in here, with their Trader Jacques’ Vanilla Eclairs, which are located in the freezer section.
I love the packaging of these eclairs, which come four in a box. Each eclair is in its own compartment, so the pastries arrive at your kitchen in perfect condition. They are generously sized, though there are only four, so you could actually split them if you want to stretch out how many servings you get in a box. The eclairs should be completely defrosted before serving, which can be done overnight in the fridge or in about an hour at room temperature.
The choux is surprisingly light and crisp after defrosting, with a strong vanilla flavor from the pastry cream. The cream wasn’t as creamy as I had hoped, but considering it is frozen and defrosted, a little sacrifice is to be expected when it comes to texture. The choux is well-filled and none of mine had air pockets. They’re topped with a layer of chocolate fondant, which adds a lot of richness to each bite. Are they as good as homemade? I have to say no, but they have a good overall flavor and definitely beat out many of the soggy and underfilled eclairs I’ve had elsewhere. They’re great in a pinch and tasty enough that they’ll motivate you to set some time aside to bake your own from scratch the next time.