The month of spoopy (cute and spooky) is here! October is truly great, not only because it’s full on autumn and I’m in love with fall leaves, but because it’s the month where we can obsess over ALL the treats. I always make some homemade halloween treats, especially brownies, once October hits because, why not? We all need a little bit of halloween cheer in our lives, am I right?

The other day Mike and I were just talking about how the month of October could be so much more: halloween trees, halloween presents, halloween stockings, halloween advent calendars! Halloween all the things! And now that it looks like trick-or-treating is a thing of the past, home baked halloween treats are just the thing. These cute little googly-eyed brownies inspired by the soot sprites in Totoro are just the spoopy cute treat you need in your life.

totoro soot sprite brownies |

But wait, what are soot sprites?

If you’re fan of Studio Ghibli and Totoro, then you probably know what soot sprites, or susuwatari, are. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re cute little round dust bunnies with googly eyes and are in two Miyazaki movies: Totoro and Spirited Away. They always remind me of Halloween because a.) they’re fuzzy and b.) Totoro and Spirited Away are both perfect for watching in October.

Why soot sprite brownies?

There are a ton of soot sprite cupcakes out there and I’ve even made soot sprite cookies and soot sprite onigiri but these year I was feeling like brownies were the way to go. Who doesn’t love a brownie, especially one that’s been baked in a muffin tin so it’s nice and round and just the right shape for putting eyes onto and calling it a soot sprite?

soot sprite brownies |

Cakey vs fudgy brownies

There are two brownie camps: cakey and fudgy. I’m a fudgy brownie person all the way. I love dense, thick brownies, and this brownie doesn’t disappoint in that department, but its also more of a balance between cakey and fudgy. It’s an oxymoron, if you will: soft and cakey on the edges with a slightly denser, melty, fudgy middle. I baked them in muffin tins so they all have edges (brownie edges for the win!) and the same structural integrity. As a bonus, you don’t have to cut your brownies and every single brownie looks the same. They also kind of look like slightly larger two-bite brownies, which is hilariously cute because I love two-bite brownies.

Cocoa powder vs melted chocolate brownies

These brownies are an all cocoa brownie and you might be wondering, but will it be chocolatey enough? The answer is yes! Cocoa powder is 100 percent cocoa versus chocolate which contains sugar and cocoa fats. Cocoa powder gives you more control when making brownies – you get to decide how much sugar and fat goes into your brownies. Plus, who doesn’t have a canister of cocoa in their pantry? It’s a win-win in my books.

cake vs fudgy brownies |

The best cocoa powder for brownies

I use unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder, which is cocoa power that has had it’s acidity reduced making the cocoa darker and more chocolatey looking, but more mellow tasting than natural cocoa power. Because natural cocoa powder is simply powdered up cocoa beans it’s more acidic, bitter, and concentrated compared to dutch process.

Can you stuff these brownies?

Yes! Simply spoon some of the batter into the muffin tin, put about 1 teaspoon of your stuffing in, then spoon some extra batter on top. You’ll get a stuffed brownie that’s extra melty with a surprise in the middle. Some ideas for stuffing:

  • chocolate chunks/chocolate chips
  • nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pecans
  • spreads: nutella, jam, peanut butter, cookie butter
  • cookies/candy bars: crushed up oreos, biscoff cookies, chopped up candy bars

How do you get brownies out of a muffin tin?

Make sure you generously butter your tin. I also like to place a strip of parchment paper with some overhang into the tin, so I can use the overhang to easily lift the brownies out.

totoro soot sprite brownies |

Can you freeze brownies?

Yes, just wrap them individually with plastic wrap and place them in a air tight container. They’ll keep in the freezer for at least a month, if they last that long.

Can you make these brownies without the eyes?

Of course! These will make regular brownie bites too.

How to make brownie bites

  1. Butter your tin and line with strips of parchment paper and preheat the oven.
  2. Melt the butter, let it cool slightly, then mix it with the sugar and salt. Stir in the cocoa powder and instant coffee.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time then stir in the vanilla and water.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until there are no flour streaks.
  5. Bake, cool, and enjoy!

brownies from scratch |

Best brownie bites tips

  • Better cocoa powder = better brownies! Use a good dutch processed cocoa powder. Dutch processed cocoa powder is less acidic than regular natural cocoa powder. It’s the key to a good chocolate brownie.
  • Instant coffee is the secret ingredient. Instant coffee gives just the tiniest bit of bitterness which will contrast with the chocolate and make i taste even more chocolatey. You won’t taste the coffee at all.
  • Under baking is better than over baking. When in doubt, pull the brownies out a bit early. No one likes a dry brownie and the brownies will continue to cook and firm up while they cool, so under bake instead of over bake.
  • Let the brownies cool. Letting the brownies cool will make them gooier, and fudgier, with a more intense chocolate flavor. If you want a warm brownie the next day, just warm it up in 30 second increments in the microwave until it’s warmed to your liking.

Happy halloween month!
xoxo steph

totoro soot sprite brownies |

Homemade Halloween Treats: Spooky Googly Eye Soot Sprite Brownies

These cute little googly-eyed brownies inspired by the soot sprites in Totoro are just the spoopy cute treat you need in your life.
Serves 12
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder dutch processed preferred
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 large eggs room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and line your muffin tins with a strip of parchment paper (so you can pull the brownies out easily).
    brownie muffin tins |
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter with the sugar and salt. Add the cocoa powder and instant coffee and mix until well combined.
    brownie batter |
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well to combine. Sir in the vanilla and 1.5 tablespoons of water.
    brownies from scratch |
  • Sprinkle on the baking powder, then the flour and slowly mix until just combined with no flour streaks.
    brownie batter |
  • Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tins. Bake for 11-12 minutes. When done the tops will be puffy and the sides will look set. Under baked is better than over baking for a moist and fudgy center. Let cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack.
    two bite brownies |
  • To decorate brownies as Soot Sprites, you’ll need some candy eyes. Push the candy eyes into the brownies right after they come out of the oven and are still soft.
    totoro soot sprite brownies |

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Halloween Treats: Spooky Googly Eye Soot Sprite Brownies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 153 Calories from Fat 83
% Daily Value*
Fat 9.2g14%
Saturated Fat 5.5g34%
Cholesterol 51mg17%
Sodium 187mg8%
Potassium 29mg1%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 0.8g3%
Sugar 12.7g14%
Protein 1.5g3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  1. Mara says:

    Those little baking cups look so handy! Where did you find them?

    1. Stephanie says:

      we got them in japan but if you search google for individual muffin tins, you should find some. these ones ( look similar :)

      1. Mara says:

        Thank you! I can’t wait to make these brownies for a Ghibli Halloween. ?

        1. Stephanie says:

          oh YAY!!! this makes me so happy!!!!
          please check out all my other totoro creations too, every year i do a totoro week :)

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