In the Neighborhood


So, this happened.  Too kawaii to pass up!!

Can you guess what movie I have finally seen, after being shamed into it from friends and family alike?

No, not Boyhood.

One of my most distinct memories as a child is going to the old Cinemopolis in downtown Ithaca one fateful evening with my family to see Spirited Away.

My dad says he was surprised how quiet and attentive his children were, seeing that our usual behavior at movies was anything but. I explained to him that I was not fixated out of interest, per se, but silenced and enraptured by cold, petrifying fear.

I was convinced that I was Chichiro… the basic resemblance was there, after all.
What’s more, I was convinced my parents were going to turn into pigs and inadvertently abandon me in the spirit world.

It was utterly, terrifyingly enchanting.


I love Studio Ghibli films, but I haven’t seen near enough.
Next on my list is to revisit Howl’s Moving Castle and finally (finally!) rent and see Princess Mononoke.
(My brothers were downright shocked when I admitted to never having seen Princess M, but to be honest, my entire cinematic knowledge/experience is sorely lacking.)

In honor of having finally (finally!) seen My Neighbor Totoro (how could it possibly have taken me this long?!), I got to work the morning after making these cookies.


I love these cookies.  They’re so cute!
My favorite part are the tiny little black sesame seed noses on the larger Totoros, and of course, of course, the soot sprites, which are possibly my favorite creatures.

If you’re not familiar with the characters, let me introduce you:
the little black pom poms are soot sprites, or Makkuro Kurosuke, or Susuwatari, harmless little dust bunnies,
the small white creatures are Chibi-Totoro, the medium blue ones are Chuu-Totoro, and the big honking grey ones are Oh-Totoro.

They’re a mish-mash of racoons, owls, and cats, and they also look a bit like bunnies.
Apparently, Totoro comes from the mispronunciation of tororu, or troll, so these cute little bunnies are actually… trolls?


They’re stupid simple: make this dough, leaving out the cocoa powder, then divide it into 4 portions.
Tint 1 with a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a touch of black food coloring, for the large Totoro cookies.
Tint the second with plenty of black food coloring and a teaspoon of cocoa, for the soot sprites.
Tint the third with 1/2 a teaspoon of cocoa and a touch of black and blue food coloring, for the medium Totoros.
The last, don’t tint at all, and those will be the mini Totoros.

To make the soot sprites, cut a circle and then use a knife or a small, pointy cookie cutter to create jagged edges.
For all the Totoros, cut out an oval or similar shape, then carve the ears and edges with a knife or another pointy cookie cutter.

Give the large and medium Totoros black sesame seed noses, and give them all eyes (and some bellies) with this royal icing.


7 thoughts on “In the Neighborhood

  1. Love it! Made Totoro macarons once and even though they were a pain in the butt and I only ended up decorating one out of frustration, it was cute and tasty all the same. Might have to try these.

    1. Thanks Nhi! These are much easier than macarons. Impressed that you even decorated one, I’m sure I would’ve given up! 😉 xx

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