A no bake chocolate eclair cake made with graham crackers, whipped vanilla pudding and covered in chocolate ganache. So easy, and it tastes just like an eclair!
Scroll down for a how-to video. Just push ▶️ play!
No Bake Goodness
No bake desserts are perfect for summertime, or anytime you want to whip up something sweet without pulling out all the stops. Most often, no bake means using some version of crispy, crunchy cookies (like our graham crackers). Either we crush them to use for a pie crust or let them sit in the refrigerator for with something smooth, creamy and delicious for an icebox cake.
It’s not exactly the same instant gratification as a microwave mug cake, but this chocolate eclair cake can be as much or as little work as you please. Here, I’ve made my own “instant” homemade vanilla pudding, but you can use the boxed kind.
Part of the reason I love making my own “instant” pudding is that I can control the amount of sugar. That, and it’s just so easy. Ditto making my own stabilized whipped cream instead of using Cool Whip in this simple recipe.
It also doesn’t help that Cool Whip is filled with tons of chemicals. Delicious chemicals, though, aren’t they? You don’t have to add the gelatin to the whipped cream if you don’t want, but you’ll just have to serve the cake nearly frozen as it won’t set up properly otherwise.
As the cake sits in the refrigerator, the graham crackers soften into the filling and all of the flavors mix and mingle perfectly. By the time you’re ready to serve this crowd-favorite no-bake cake, it tastes just like a chocolate eclair—but there’s enough for everyone without any fuss.
And no-fuss? That’s what summer is for.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Dairy: Dairy is a tough one to substitute in this recipe. The graham crackers are essentially naturally gluten free (just use nondairy milk), so you’re good there. The vanilla pudding is a bit tougher, as it uses nonfat dry milk as a base. You can try using blanched almond flour in its place, but I’m not entirely sure how well it will work.
Coconut cream might work in place of the heavy whipping cream in the stabilized whipped cream, but I would absolutely use the gelatin. Coconut cream would be fine in place of the cream for the chocolate ganache. Cool Whip is considered “non-dairy” but it does have some milk protein in it. I don’t really get that, but there it is.
How To Video For Chocolate Eclair Cake
Push play ▶️ to watch me make this cake. Then it’s your turn!
Chocolate Ganache 2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
*If you would like to make the whipped cream without the gelatin to stabilize it, simply omit the gelatin and water, and the related instructions. You will have to freeze the cake and serve it frozen, rather than refrigerated, as it will not set up properly otherwise.
Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside. Be sure to let the paper overhang all 4 sides of the pan.
Make the instant vanilla pudding according to the recipe (or box) instructions, transfer it to a large bowl, place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour or until cool to the touch.
Make the stabilized whipped cream. Bloom the gelatin by placing it and the water in a small, heat-safe bowl, and stirring it gently to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature until the gelatin swells. Place the gelatin mixture in the microwave and melt at 60% power for 20 seconds until melted. Set the gelatin aside to cool briefly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the chilled cream and sugar, and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the cooled gelatin, and beat until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Remove the cooled pudding from the refrigerator and peel off the plastic wrap. Whisk the pudding until smooth and loose with a handheld whisk. Add the stabilized whipped cream to the pudding and fold in the cream until it is fully incorporated. Set the filling mixture aside.
Assemble the cake. Cover the bottom of the prepared pan with graham crackers, breaking them as necessary to evenly cover the surface. Top with half of the pudding and whipped cream mixture and spread it into an even layer. Place another layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding, top with the remaining pudding mixture and once again spread it into an even layer. Finish with a final layer of graham crackers.
Make the ganache and refrigerate the cake. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream until it just begins to simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl, and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the cream to sit on the chocolate for about a minute, until the chocolate begins to melt, and mix until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the warm ganache over the top of the assembled cake, and gently spread it toward the edges of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours to allow the filling to set and the graham crackers to soften. Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes before removing the entire cake from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper and setting it on a cutting board. That will make the cake a lot easier to slice. Using a large, sharp knife, slice the cake into 9 or 12 equal pieces and serve chilled or frozen.
Adapted from Cook’s Country. Recipe first published in 2015. Video, almost all photos, and most text new; recipe tweaked slightly.