Polvoron is a traditional Filipino dessert that is very easy to make. The main ingredients are flour, sugar, and powdered milk. Butter binds them all together. Philippines was colonized by Spain for 300 years, so it is no surprise that this tiny cake has Spanish origin.
As a teacher, I love making this in class because the only cooking involved is toasting flour that can easily be done days beforehand. After all the ingredients are measured, the only thing left to do is to mix and mold. If you’ve had any experience with children, you know why making this dessert with them is always an instant hit.
My mom used to make big batches of this “short bread”. She would mix peanuts, cashews, or toasted pinipig (flattened immature glutinous rice) to give texture to the otherwise, melt-in-your-mouth dessert.
The trickiest part of this dish is knowing when the flour is toasted just right. Over do it and the flour will taste bitter; under cook it and it won’t have the nutty taste of toasted flour. My mom would say that the “nose knows” when the flour is cooked just right.
Aside from the flour turning golden brown, flour toasted perfectly would have a great smell that would spread through the whole house. She would ask me to go up to the second floor hallway of our house and stand just outside my bedroom door; if I could smell it there, then the flour is ready.
My contribution to this traditional polvoron recipe is adding freeze-dried mangoes. The hint of mango reminds me of summers in Manila. I can’t enjoy Zambales, Cebu, or even Guimaras mangoes (because we don’t get them here), but a hint of mango in my small polvoron cakes can tide me over until my next trip back to Manila.
1 1/4 cup toasted flour (whole wheat or all purpose)
1 1/2 cups powdered milk
1/4 cup sugar (white or demerara)
1 cup butter, melted
generous 1/4 cup pinipig or rice krispies
1.7 oz or 48 grams freeze dried mangoes, crushed
Toast flour in a pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally to even the browning. It may take around 45 minutes. DO NOT walk away while the flour is toasting. Transfer toasted flour in a mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Pour melted butter 1/3 cup at a time. You can cut back on the butter once the mixture sticks together.
To shape the mixture into tiny cakes, use polvoron molder or a regular tablespoon for a simple finish. The polvoron will be less crumbly if refrigerated for about 10 minutes.
*The original recipe asks for 1/2 c sugar, I scaled it down to 1/4 cup because of the natural sweetness of the freeze dried mangoes.