I think among all the holiday recipes I had planned out for this year, this was the one I was most excited about. POLVORON. One of my favourite Filipino treats ever! Honestly, who wouldn’t love crumbly, milky, buttery shortbread that melts in the mouth? Best part is they can be made into soooo many flavours; like the more classic pinipig,cashew, cookies and cream, and malted chocolate, to the newer blueberry, strawberry, and matcha, or even chocolate-covered… Oh man. This is one of those let-your-imagination-run-wild-with-flavour-options sorts of things.
The polvoron is a super crumbly confection-shortbread hybrid originating from Spain. Since the Philippines was formerly a Spanish colony, the country has embraced polvoron wholeheartedly, among many other Spanish delicacies that have been modified to the Filipino palate over the years. This recipe I’m sharing today comes pretty close in taste to my favourite local polvoron brand called HOP: House of Polvoron. With this recipe, you can make A TON of polvoron for the price of a box of 24 HOPs. I also find there’s a certain satisfaction in having full control over the sweetness and flavour of your polvoron.
I was actually quite excited about this I even made a video tutorial. My voice in the tutorial sounds a little bizarre (and kind of like there are multiple people in the voiceover…) because of this cold I have plus some mic problems. I’m hopeful it still provides some useful tips though. More on that after the jump!
There is actually an important reason why I decided to do a polvoron recipe for Christmas, despite it being pretty much a staple confection all year round. I know a lot of Filipinos feel just a tad bit more homesick around the Christmas season. There is something about this time of the year that makes people feel a magnified sense of nostalgia. Suddenly they find themselves reminiscing a bit more about snippets of their life here, and normally those memories are on the micro, mundane level. Those extremely tiny things they weren’t particularly conscious about before become the things they miss the most. To me the polvoron represents that tiny thing.
I know a little bit about the feeling of homesickness, but if I really think about it, I’m only familiar with it on a shallow level. Back then I was only studying abroad a few months and knew I would come back home eventually. I cannot imagine what it feels like to just up and go, reroot your life, and move your whole world to some place else. Most of my friends who have done so usually have no idea when they will be able to come back even for a short vacation. Life everywhere else is pretty different from life here in the Philippines, they tell me. It’s hard to find time to come back home no matter how much they miss their friends and family here; no matter how much they yearn for all the random things they used to encounter here everyday that would make them feel like they belong.
If I were to give some sort of bright spot to Filipinos abroad who have a mental checklist of things they miss at home, at least maybe they can cross polvoron off if this is in it. I’m confident that anyone can make these at home, and most Pinoys abroad probably know a Filipino supermarket that sell the molds anyway.
Polovoron is made up of simple ingredients such as toasted flour, a lot of powdered milk, sugar, and soft butter, packed in a special polvoron mold. The molds can be found in your regular SM Supermarkets in the Philippines. The ease of polvoron-making is what makes it a favourite product to sell among Filipino housewives looking to make a little money on the side. The fact that it’s universally liked also makes it a favourite to send abroad or to gift to foreign guests.
Now the add-ons can really spell the difference in the flavour of the polvoron, and in this case I used some of my favourites. First up is the pinipig or toasted rice crisps. Filipinos love adding this to desserts because it adds such a nice pop and crunch! It’s also one of the more timeless polvoron flavours and my favourite one.
Next is a version I made adding Milo malted chocolate milk powder. This is a more homemade type of flavour compared to the other two, since I don’t typically find Milo-flavoured polvoron in a commercial setting. Kids enjoy this flavour a lot because they can taste their favourite chocolate drink.
Last is the everybody’s favourite combination of cookies and cream. I see adults and children fight over the last piece of cookies and cream anything so pretty sure this one is going to be the big hit. You can use Oreos or a local brand of chocolate sandwich cookies (eg. Hi-Ro or Cream-O) to keep it 100% Filipino if you wish. Local brands tend to be a lot cheaper as well while still great-tasting, which is the consideration for most polvoron home-sellers.
For the cookies and cream variation, make sure you crush the cookies finely because it’ll be hard to pack your polvoron to a solid mass if there are big pieces of cookies in it. The risk that they will break apart the moment you pick them up is very high! They might break even right out of the mold or while being wrapped, so just crush they cookies finely.
The only other tip I can give would definitely be to make these with a partner (or two)! I made one recipe of polvoron on my own, and my mold yielded 60 of them I think. And boy did it take a while! They are incredibly easy but thanks to the sheer number of polvoron produced, molding these can take anywhere from 1 to a back-breaking 2 hours, so plan accordingly! The good news is, once you’re done you’re going to have enough to give away AND to keep for yourself. 🙂
makes anywhere from 50 to 100 pieces, depending on size of mold
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup instant non fat dry milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened (plus more as necessary)
- ¼ cup ground chocolate cookies (such as Oreos)
- ¼ cup Milo or malted chocolate milk of choice
- ¼ cup crushed toasted pinipig (toasted rice flakes)
- 1. In a big skillet or wok over medium heat, toast flour with constant stirring for about 15 minutes or until light brown. Remove from heat and transfer flour to a big bowl. Allow to completely cool before proceeding.
- 2. Add the powdered milk and sugar to the toasted flour and whisk until well combined. Add the softened butter and mix well using a pastry blender.
- 3. Divide mixture into 3 equal portions. Add ground chocolate cookies in one portion, Milo in the other, and pinipig in the last portion. Mix well.
- 4. Prepare pieces of parchment to wrap the polvoron.
- 5. Scoop mixture into the mold and compact it using a spatula or spoon (or press the mold against the mixture and pack with a spoon or spatula). Be sure that the mold is filled to the rim without gaps so it won't fall apart once gently released into prepared paper. Carefully wrap the polvoron and twist both ends of the paper to seal. (If you find that the polvoron mixture is too crumbly to form, add more butter a tablespoons at a time until you get your desired texture.)