The advantage to playing catch up is that I get to see what everyone else has done already, and just pick the one that looks the best (or easiest!), or that I have the ingredients for already. The disadvantage is that I’m already running out of days in the month that I promised myself to finish all of the current Kulinarya challenges… oh well. Nothing gets accomplished by whining, so let’s go!
Being me, I wanted to make this challenge as flexible as possible. Polvoron (milk powder candies) are my favourite Filipino candies, and they usually come in a few different types – “plain”, pinipig (rice bubbles), ube (purple yam), pretty typical Filipino flavours. I wanted to do try out a crazy Asian fusion idea, as well as a standard fallback that I knew the Doctor would like. They are crumbly, milky, and a little crunchy, perfect little mouth-size pieces that you somehow manage to finish the entire pack by yourself, leaving only happy memories and a pile of wrappers in front of you.
Cusinera of Busog! Sarap! (I’m Full! Delicious!) had a similar idea for her polvoron in making four different flavours, so I borrowed her recipe. Pity I couldn’t borrow her polvoron mould as well, so I had to improvise.
Ingredients (makes about 1kg polvoron mix)
2 cups plain flour, toasted
1 cup (225g) butter, melted
1 1/3 cup powdered full cream milk
1 1/2 cup white sugar
Additional flavours~(for 250g of polvoron mixture)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp matcha (green tea powder)
1/4 cup puffed rice bubbles
Toast the flour in a dry pan, stirring occasionally with a spatula. For this much flour, it took about 10 minutes for the flour to turn slightly brown, and to stop smelling like raw flour. Some people have described this smell as “nutty”, but to me, it just smells … cooked. Kind of like just-baked bread, but less mouth-watering.
Let the flour cool before mixing it with the other dry ingredients.
Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients, and mix it all in. Break up any lumps until you get a slightly moist mixture. Fancy restaurants would probably plate it like this with a creamy dessert, and call it “shortbread sand”, but we have a bit more work to do.
I weighed the mixture and divided it into four bowls.
For three of the bowls, I added one of additional ingredients each, and mixed them thoroughly. Since I didn’t have a polvoron mould, I squeezed them as flat and even as I could on baking paper, then put them into the fridge to set for about 20 minutes. I’d basically made huge polvorons!
While they were setting, I cut out cellophane wrappers in four different colours.
Then came the hard bit… cutting them into individual serving sizes. No matter what I used (cookie cutter, small plastic cup), the mix just shattered and crumbled.
So I grabbed my heavy chef’s knife, and cut up the block as best I could. The chocolate polvoron worked best, since the cocoa powder bound to the butter, making it more solid. You need to be forceful and decisive, chopping through in one quick action.
The end scraps basically got re-crumbled, re-formed, and re-set in the fridge. These subsequent batches were never as good as the first run, but hey – most of the fun of eating polvoron is pouring the broken ones straight into your mouth, and flailing helplessly at the person who’s just started talking to you.
I wrapped my polvoron like candies, folding the cellophane over, and twisting both ends. The Doctor advised me to make sure I twisted the ends in the same direction, so that you can just pull on them to unwrap it neatly. I just replied that polvorons were not about being neat!
So there you have it. I brought these to share for dinner at a friend’s house, and someone commented that they tasted kind of like Scottish shortbread. I’d never made that connection before, but if you think about it, the ingredient list is pretty much the same. And before I learnt to cook, I would make a poor substitute by eating milk powder or Milo straight out of the can (admit it – so did you!).
So, marameng salamat again to Ate Cusinera for the recipe, and yay to me for finishing another challenge!