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how to make Totoro cream puffs April 7, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in how-to (all), how-to - characters (Ghibli, video game, Wall-E).
Tags: , , , ,

I know there are many recipes for cream puffs, and it’s not like you must use this recipe to make Totoro cream puffs. If you’re using your own cream puff recipe, make cream puff dough and jump to Step 5.
A blog post about my very first batch of Totoro cream puffs can be found on “non-bento #12: Totoro cream puffs.”

[How to make Totoro cream puffs] (About 18 3-inch Totoro OR 12 3-inch Totoro and 8 smaller Totoro)
For puffs:
– 80 cc of water ( = 5 TBS and 1 TS of water)
– 4 TBS of unsalted butter OR 4 TBS of vegetable oil (I like butter. It smells a lot nicer when it’s being baked)
– 2 whole eggs (large, beaten) and 1 extra egg on standby to add the dough if it’s too thick
– Two pinches of salt
– 6 TBS of all-purpose flour (sifted if you have a sifter)

For face:
– White icing in a tube OR ANY white chocolate chips
– Any chocolate
– Powder sugar (for Chibi-Totoro and Chu-Totoro)
– Green tea powder (for Chu-Totoro)

Stuff you need:
– Sauce pan
– Spatula
– Baking pan
– Aluminum foil or parchment paper
– ziploc bag or pastry bag
– Sifter or tea strainer
– toothpick

Before you start…
– Have custard cream made and cooled down in the fridge. (See “how to make custard with a microwave” and “how to make custard by stove top”)
– Beat eggs. (Just two. Don’t crack the other egg yet)
– Sifted flour. (not absolutely necessary, but this will definitely help make the puffs puffier)
– Pre-heat the oven at 400 degrees F.
– Put aluminum foil or parchment paper on a pan. (you can lightly grease aluminum foil if you’re worried, but don’t put it too much. It may make the puffs deflate)

1. Put water, butter and salt in a sauce pan and bring it to boil.

2. When it starts boiling, take the sauce pan off the stove, put the flour in all at once and stir it very well with a spatula.

3. When the pan is cooled down enough that you can touch the pan’s bottom with a finger, add 2 TBS of the beaten egg in and stir it well.

Tip: At first, egg and flour may look separated and will not mix together, but stir it really fast, and it'll start to mix.

4. Keep checking the texture as you add a TBS of beaten egg at a time.
When the dough is thin enough that when you scoop the dough up, a lump falls after 3~5 seconds, making a triangle shape from the spatula, the dough is ready!

Tips: If the dough is too hard, cream puff skin will be hard, and if the dough is too soft, it doesn't get puffy.

You don’t have to use all of the egg if the dough is ready before you use up the egg. If the dough is still hard after using all of the egg, beat another egg and keep adding a TS of beaten egg until the dough is ready. I repeat, one TS of it at a time and stop adding egg when the dough is thin enough. Many cream puff recipes may not mention adding the egg little by little, but each egg is different in size and just a little too much egg can ruin it. I’ve tried this recipe several times already, and I used just two eggs every time and no extra egg, but I’d always add egg little by little.

What would happen if you put too much egg in the dough because you didn’t want to waste egg or got lazy? See here.

5. When the dough is ready, put it in a ziploc bag (or pastry bag if you have one) and cut a corner of the bag.

Tips: I put the bag in a glass and put the dough in. It makes it easier to keep the bag steady.

6. Hold the bag 1/4 inch away from the pan, squeeze the dough out straight down (1.5 inch diameter), and slowly move 1 inch to the side (still squeezing), and move it back, and squeeze one more time and pull the bag straight up. Make sure you save some for ears!



...three! And pull the bag straight up.

Tip: This may sound difficult, but you just want to make a pear shape. Try keeping the bag vertical to the pan when squeezing.

7. For the ears put the ziploc filled with dough on Totoro’s head, and squeeze a bit of dough. Don’t worry too much if the ear looks pointy or too big at this point.

Make sure each dough is at least 1 inch away from each other.

8. With a wet finger, gently push down any pointy parts on the dough and ears.

Tip: If you’re making smaller Totoro in the same batch, try not to make it too small. It might burn.

9. Put it on the oven and baked it for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!

Tips: Each oven is different. So I suggest you keep peeping inside the oven while you bake. If the dough is puffy and golden brown, it’s done.

10. Lower the heat to 350 degrees, and bake for another 15 minutes. (400 degrees for 10 minutes is to make the cream puff puffy, 350 degrees F for 15 minutes is to dry the inside of the cream puff)

11. Take it out, remove the puffs from the aluminum foil while they’re still warm.

Tip: If you wait too long, the bottom of cream puffs might get stuck on the pan. If it’s stuck, heat it up at low heat (about 200-250 degrees F) for 15~ minutes, and try removing them again. But it’s not the end of the world if there’s a hole at the bottom. (see Step 14)

12. Make a slit in each cream puff and let them cool down. If it’s moist inside, remove moist dough from inside, and stick it back into the turned-off oven.

13. Make Totoro eyes A & B

Eyes A:

Squeeze white icing on wax paper (or aluminum foil or plastic wrap) for Totoro's eyes. Push the top with down with a wet finger to make the surface flat, and put them in the freezer until the icing hardens. (Make extra ones in case you break them.)

Microwave regular chocolate (Don't heat it up too long or it'll melt icing on contact.) Take the icing out of the fridge. Use the back of the toothpick to put chocolate pupils onto the icing. Put it back in the freezer.

Tips: For Eyes A, you have to be very very careful not to break them. Also, icing eyes will start melting when you touch so you have to be quick.

Eyes B:

Put white chocolate chips on a wax paper or plastic wrap and microwave it for 30 seconds.

Put another piece of wax paper or plastic wrap on top of the chocolate, and press the chocolate down with a finger lightly. Put it in the freezer for a couple of minutes until the chocolate hardens.

Microwave regular chocolate. Take the white chocolate out of the fridge. Use the back of the toothpick to put chocolate pupil onto the white chocolate. Put it back in the freezer.

White chocolate gets very hard, so you don't have to worry about it crumbling when you touch it. But it does give Totoro bug eyes. 😛

Tips: I’ve tried Eyes A a couple of times in my previous Totoro cream puffs, but after experimenting, I recommend Eyes B for beginners.  They both look pretty much the same from the front. (You can see a picture of Totoro with Eyes B from front on my flickr) The only thing is that you can’t make very small eyes with Eyes B method.

Alternative for eyes: If you’re more skilled, put icing directly with the tube on the cream puffs. (You can attach the tip on some icing tube)

14. Once they’re cooled down, put custard in a ziploc bag, cut the corner off and squeeze it in from the slit.

A hole at the bottom? No problem! Squeeze the custard in from the bottom. (That’s another way to fill cream puff anyway)

15. Take the eyes out of the freezer, carefully remove the eyes. Put a little bit of icing where you want the eyes to be, and stick them on.

For Chibi-Totoro, dust with powder sugar using tea strainer BEFORE you put eyes on.
For Chu-Totoro, dust with powder sugar first, and cut paper for the stomach part and put it over a puff and dust with green tea powder BEFORE you put eyes on.

16. Draw nose and whiskers with melted chocolate using a toothpick. (back of the toothpick for the nose, tip of the toothpick for the whiskers)

He's cute enough to eat, isn't he?

Here's a group shot!

Now watch them disappear in less than a minute! 😀
I’ve been baking almost every night for couple of nights straight for this how-to, and after I make them, I just take them to work and give them away. I’m very glad that all my co-workers like Totoro, like sweets, and love sweet Totoro even more!

The instructions may seem really long but I just wanted to explain every step as much as I can, especially for those who never made cream puffs. It’s really not as hard as it looks.
If you don’t want to make too many Totoro, you can use the half of the measurements to make half the amount.
Actually, I’ve used the half of the measurements for the first couple of times, so that I could practice and ‘get to know’ my new electric oven.
Like I mentioned, each oven is different, so sometimes even though the dough is perfect, you still might have to adjust the baking time or temperature or both. Even if it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time, don’t get discouraged! Keep trying, and remember what you did and how it turned out last time.

I forgot to mention but you can freeze just the puffs or cream puffs!

You can freeze just the puffs after you bake them, make a slit and let them cool down. Put them in an airtight container and freeze them. When you eat, take them out the freezer, and let them thaw at room temperature before you put custard cream or whipped cream in.


You can freeze the puffs after you put custard cream (or ice cream in this case) too. Put them in an airtight container and freeze them. When you eat, take them out the freezer, and leave them out for 5~10 minutes at room temperature until the skin is soft enough to eat. And you’ll have cream puff ice cream!

How to make Totoro cream puffs on my flickr

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!


1. c - April 8, 2009

hey anna,
im so amazed with your bento skill! :)) and always inspired.
anyway…im just wondering… i want to make this for my sister’s birthday…but i was thinking of making a bigggg totoro… almost the size of a small cake… do you think that’ll work? or would it be too big that the puff would go flat?

thanks in advance,

AnnaTheRed - April 9, 2009

Hi c,
I’ve never made a cream puff bigger than regular size, so I have no idea… But, there’s an online store in Japan that sells gigantic cream puffs 8-inches in diameter. You can see the pictures of it onthis page, so it is possible. But I don’t know if you can use the same dough to make a cream puff that big. Maybe you can make regular puffs and place them as the shape of Totoro?

Hi Wendy,
Cream cheese, eh? Hmmm,,, I’ll play with it for a while, and get back to you when I come up with something!

2. Wendy Leow - April 8, 2009

Hi Anna

Was waiting for this!! Thanks!!!

btw – would you/ could you be able to do anything exciting with cream cheese? my kiddos eat it with crackers and I seriously can’t think of what to do with it cos’ it’s so mushy…cheers 🙂

3. pat - April 10, 2009


Thanks a bunch for this recipe! I was surprised at how easy and delicious it was (I’m currently baking my second batch =D ) I had a bit of trouble piping in the custard though… any pointers?

(you can see it all coming out!)

thanks in advance and keep on blogging! Your site is my favorite

AnnaTheRed - April 13, 2009

Hi pat,
Your cream puffs look soooo cute! I think you did a better job than me.
About the custard, did you cool it down in the fridge? The custard should be pretty firm after being kept in the fridge for a while. Still they look delicious though!

4. c - April 14, 2009

Thank you anna, for the pointers :))
Umm… I’ll think about it hahaha… might still try the huge puffs if i had the gut to do it on the day lol ;p Otherwise I’ll try your other idea about arranging the cream puffs into totoro shape hee hee 🙂

Doumo! m(_ _)m

5. Kimi619 - April 15, 2009

This is such a great post, thanks for sharing!

6. Daryl Surat - April 16, 2009

My initial reaction upon seeing this chronicle was to mentally chant “E C DUB,” as that is some seriously hardcore dedication to the pursuit of festive baked goods.

I was never one for cream puffs as the notion of custard terrifies me, but perhaps confronting one’s fears is a necessity in this case. Indeed, as I think about it, Totoro once said he would eat my soul. But with the successful application of this knowledge you have conferred unto me, I would be the one eating Totoro! Oh, how the tables will have turned.

7. inadvertentgardener - April 16, 2009

These are totally adorable…and there is NO WAY I would ever do all this work. But I would eat this work, if someone served it to me. Seriously, though — totally awesome post, and great, detailed instructions!

8. sourmilk - April 16, 2009

best how-to bakery site i’ve seen. great job on sharing the tips and the details.

9. Brian - April 16, 2009

Oh awesome! I gotta try making these!
Great job! パチパチパチ!

10. tackducks - April 16, 2009


11. jenni s-g - April 16, 2009

Love these and such great instructions! Thanks for posting!

12. Molly - April 16, 2009

This is the most insanely cute idea I have ever seen. And my favorite movie of all time. You are my hero.

13. el5anto - April 16, 2009

awsome!!! aaargh! i wanna make some!!!

14. Mizuu - April 16, 2009

That is must-try, absolutely!
I’m not that skilled with baking, but when you don’t challenge yourself, you don’t succeed, right?

15. Thata - April 17, 2009

Thanks for sharing. How creative are you.

16. Vanesa - April 17, 2009

This is so wonderful! 😀
I’ll make it this weekend!
Thanks a lot for sharing this cute recipe and design 🙂

17. Kimble - April 17, 2009

That is so awesome!

18. Pellucidity - April 17, 2009

I’ll say it again, I can’t wait for an excuse to make these 😉

Thanks for the recipe! This is a friend’s favorite movie from childhood, so I forwarded the recipe along.


19. daFool - April 19, 2009

We tried your recipe, thank you. Tasted good but we didn’t get as nice looking ones than you did.

AnnaTheRed - April 24, 2009

Hi daFool
I checked out your site, and seems like the cream puff dough was too thin. Make sure that when you scoop the dough up, a lump falls after 3~5 seconds, making a triangle shape from the spatula.
Hope you’ll try again!

20. Heleny - April 20, 2009

Totoro is so cute and I’m in love with cream puffs! I will definitely try this recipe someday.

21. S. Muis - April 23, 2009

Wicked! Thanks for the tutorial!

22. secyw - April 24, 2009

this is very cute!!! awesome tutorial!

23. sathiencat - April 25, 2009

WOW! Totoro + Creampuffs! two of my greatest loves. ❤ thank you so much for this tutorial! this is my first time here. can’t wait to check out your other stuff ^^ Have a nice day! 🙂

24. moshi_moshi - April 25, 2009

I ❤ you.

25. Emelind - April 26, 2009


26. kim - April 27, 2009

that is AWESOME!!!!

27. appletini - April 29, 2009

Thanks for writing this recipe up! I actually tried making this tonight, and while the custard turned out yummy (I took a risk and substituted flour for strawberry pudding mix), the puffs came out flat as cookies, and slightly burnt! 😦 Maybe I put in too much egg…and maybe adding 2 tsp of pudding powder to the puff mix was a horrible idea (I was feeling a bit adventurous).

I’m wondering, is there a way we can check up on the puffs without opening the door? My oven unfortunately does not have a window, so it’s more or less a guessing game to see when the puffs are done.

I will definitely try this again tomorrow night! Thanks again for the inspiration! ^_^

AnnaTheRed - May 1, 2009

Sorry to hear that the puffs didn’t get puffy.
If your cream puffs were flat, you might have put too much egg, but I can’t really be sure… it could be the pudding mix you added. Consistency of the dough is the most important thing when making cream puffs. Make sure it’s not too runny or too hard.

>is there a way we can check up on the puffs without opening the door?

I don’t think there is. You just have to experiment with your oven , dough and cooking time.

Hope you’ll try again, and let me know how it turns out!

appletini - May 3, 2009

The second time was a charm! 🙂 Just used flour, correct amount of egg, and figured out a good oven time. The result:

Thanks again for posting this recipe! 🙂

28. Jude - April 30, 2009

What an awesome post. I’m a big fan of Miyazaki and cream puffs 🙂

29. tofugirl - April 30, 2009

Hi Anna–this was such a genius idea, and I had to go make Totoro puffs pretty much as soon as I saw this post (okay, well I waited for the end of the work day first). Thank you for making such a detailed post (although I am apparently not very good at following directions ;)), and next time maybe my Totoros will not come out so deformed looking :).

If you are curious to see mine: http://openmouthinsertcookie.blogspot.com/2009/04/totoro-cream-puffs.html


30. Fat Ninja - May 15, 2009
31. suzuzakami - June 22, 2009

hey AnnaTheRed, thanks for the cute cream puffs!
the first time i tried, the totoro became flat and soggy.
but don’t worry, i’ll try again next morning (when my mom and and dad aren’t awake) 🙂

32. Joel P - June 23, 2009

Thanks! Made ours for my son’s 7th birthday party this past weekend:

Chu-Totoro finished!!

My addition was dusting with blue and white confectioner’s sugar to make chu-totoro. It was so much work to get two colors and not cover the eyes, nose, and whiskers that only the birthday boy got one. Everyone else got a bald one. 🙂

33. Sara - August 13, 2009

Amazing idea!! I’m really going to try this even though I’ve never made cream puffs before. I love all your stuff and thanks for a great tutorial ^_^

34. Joyce - August 31, 2009

Just chance upon yr blog while looking for soem cream puff ideas.
Your Chibi-Totoro caught my attention….
Very adorable, wonder willi be able to do it like you…
cos hard to pipe out to ensure the Chibi-Totoro got a smooth body as what you mention, care to teach me how to pipe properly for the stomach. And where do you cut to pipe in yout custard. Stomach or right below…


35. Cheryl - September 2, 2009

Can u freeze the cream puffs with the eyes and whiskers on it too? Also, how do u pack them later? Just wait til it’s soft, then pack, or can u pack frozen foods with fresh foods in a bento box?

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