Chocolate Éclair Cake

serves 15-20

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 cups whole milk

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoon pieces

5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons water

1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder

2 3/4 cups heavy cream, divided

30 graham cracker rectangles

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

5 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

In a large saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Whisk in milk and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping bottom and sides continuously with a rubber spatula.  Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low, continuing to scrape bottom and sides, until thickened and large bubbles appear on the surface, about 4-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.  Transfer pudding to a large bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2-3 hours.

In a small bowl, stir together water and gelatin and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.  Microwave until the mixture is bubbling around the edges and the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 15-30 seconds.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, a hand held beater, or a wire whisk, whip 2 cups of chilled heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add the gelatin mixture and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk half of the whipped cream into the cooled pudding, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until combined.  Cover the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with 10 graham crackers, breaking as needed to fit in the pan.  Top with half of the pudding mixture (about 5 1/2 cups), smoothing the top with an off-set spatula.  Top with another 10 graham cracker squares, breaking as needed to fit. Repeat with the remaining pudding and crackers.  Refrigerate until ready to glaze

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup cream, chocolate chips, corn syrup, and espresso powder.  Microwave, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth,  about 1-2 minutes.  Cool the glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes.  Pour the glaze over the top layer of graham crackers, spreading evenly with an off-set spatula.  Refrigerate the cake for 6-24 hours.  Cake can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.  Enjoy!

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