If you're looking for a cute and delicious recipe, these tender buns loaded with creamy chocolate are definitely for you!
While I'm not usually sharing themed-food, I believe steamed buns always taste better when they look fun! And since Halloween is right around the corner, now is the perfect time to share these cute Totoro buns!
Soft and fluffy buns + creamy chocolate ganache + cuteness. The equation could not get any better! Welcome to the adventure!
These buns are not only easy to make, but they are super fun to decorate!
We start by making the filling that consists of just two ingredients: coconut cream and dark chocolate. For a subtle nuttiness I also added a couple of tablespoon of hazelnut butter, but that's totally optional. Bring the coconut cream to a boil, pour over the dark chocolate, stir to combine and refrigerate until set.
HOW TO MAKE THE DOUGH
Now onto the dough. We will be preparing two different ones, a white one for the belly and a grey one for the head. To keep this recipe natural and avoid artificial food coloring, I used black sesame seeds to color the grey dough. Black sesame seeds are first soaked in water, then blended and strained to get a grey sesame milk.
The dough is very easy to make, we combine bao flour, water, sugar, and yeast, and knead until smooth.
So, why use bao flour instead of all-purpose flour? Bao flour is bleached and low in gluten, so it yields a whiter, more pleasant color. It also usually includes tapioca flour, making the buns fluffier. You can make this recipe with all-purpose flour, but your buns will have a more yellow color and won't be as light in texture.
Once both dough are prepared, proof for about 90 minutes in a warm place.
SHAPING THE BUNS
- To assemble, you want to flatten your white dough using a rolling pin into about ¼-inch thickness. Then cut circles and wrap each one around a dollop of chocolate ganache. Pinch to enclose the filling and form a ball.
- Then to make the head, flatten the grey dough into about ⅛-inch thickness, cut circles, and cut each circle in half. Wrap each half circle around your white buns.
- For the details, you will shape the ears using the grey dough and press them on the head. Do the same for the eyes with the white dough (see above).
Please note: I recommend covering the dough with plastic film while you are preparing and shaping your buns. Otherwise it tends to dry fast and by the time you are making the few last buns the dough won't be as easy to work with. It won't be as sticky and you might have trouble adding the ears and eyes.
Once your buns are done, it's time to steam! I used a bamboo basket placed on a pot of boiling water and steamed for 15 minutes, steaming 3 buns at a time (they get bigger, so leave some space between each one).
It's now time to give some life to our little Totoro! Using melted chocolate and a toothpick, draw the eyes, nose, mustache, and the little triangles on each bun. This is the best part and if you have kids arounds, I'm sure they will love helping!
Feel free to be creative and add different expressions, an angry or a laughing Totoro would also look great!
These Totoro steamed buns are not only cute, but also super fluffy and filled with a rich and creamy chocolate ganache! I wonder who is the monster now after taking a bite.
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Totoro Steamed Buns (Chocolate Filled!)
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
- optional: 2 tablespoon hazelnut butter and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds soaked for at least 1 hour
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup bao flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon oil
- ¼ teaspoon dry yeast
- 1 cup bao flour
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ½ teaspoon dry yeast
- ⅓ cup warm water
- About 1 tablespoon melted chocolate for decorating
- Place the dark chocolate chips into a small mixing bowl and set aside.
- Add the coconut cream to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the dark chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and combined with the milk. Add the hazelnut butter and vanilla extract if using and stir again. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until it has firmed up.
- Make the black sesame "milk": drain the sesame seeds and add them to a blender with the ½ cup of water. Blend on high-speed for about 10 seconds. Filter through a nut milk bag and discard the sesame pulp.
- Prepare the grey dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bao flour and sugar. Dissolve the dry yeast in 3 tablespoon of black sesame milk and add to the bowl with the oil. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until you get a smooth dough. It should have the texture of pizza dough and be very slightly sticky. Place in a bowl, cover with a wet kitchen towel and let it proof for about 90 minutes in a warm place.
- Prepare the white dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bao flour and sugar. Dissolve the dry yeast in ⅓ cup of water and add to the bowl with the oil. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until you get a smooth dough. It should have the texture of pizza dough and be very slightly sticky. Place in a bowl, cover with a wet kitchen towel and let it proof for about 90 minutes in a warm place.
- Making the buns: Once both dough are ready, it's time to make the buns. Bring a pot of water to a boil (it should be about the size of your bamboo steamer).
- Scoop out balls of about 1 tablespoon of chocolate ganache and place them on a plate lined with parchment paper. Flatten the white dough using a rolling pin into about ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2.5-inch round cutter, cut out a disc. Slightly press the edges to make them thinner than the center. Place one ball of chocolate ganache in the center and pinch the edges of the dough around it to enclose the chocolate. Turn it over, place on a piece of parchment paper and repeat with the remaining filling and white dough.
- Now, roll out the grey dough into a ⅛-inch thickness and cut out the same size discs. Cut each disc in half. Flatten again to make the half discs a bit larger. Wrap one half disc around a bun and seal it by pinching the edges together on the bottom of the bun (see photos). Repeat with the remaining buns.
- To add the ears, cut small triangles in the grey dough and press them down on each bun to form ears. Do the same with the white dough for the eyes.
- Place 3 buns in a bamboo steamer, leaving about 2-inch of space between each. Place the bamboo steamer on top of the pot of boiling water and steam for about 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining buns and let cool them cook at least 20 minutes.
- To decorate: melt about 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted, use a toothpick to draw the eyes, nose, mustache, and triangles on each bun. Let cool until the chocolate on top has hardened, or eat now if you can't wait!
- Steamed buns will keep for up to 2 days at room temperature.