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)
- 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)
- White icing in a tube OR ANY white chocolate chips
- Any chocolate
- Powdered sugar (for Chibi-Totoro and Chu-Totoro)
- Green tea powder (for Chu-Totoro)
Stuff you need:
- Sauce pan
- Baking pan
- Aluminum foil or parchment paper
- ziploc bag or pastry bag
- Sifter or tea strainer
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”)
- Beaten 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.
4. Keep checking the texture as you add a TBS of beaten egg at a time. The dough is ready 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.
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.
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!
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.
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 peeking 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
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.
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)
Now watch them disappear in less than a minute! mI’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!
If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!