Strangely flat pastillas de leche.
Traditionally, pastillas de leche are made with carabao (water buffalo) milk.
I can't even recall if I've ever had carabao milk pastillas de leche, but given that I do like me a good mozzarella di bufala, I can well imagine the joy in eating carabao milk pastillas de leche.
But, we all live in an imperfect world.
Pastillas de leche are simply cooked down milk and sugar, formed into logs (pastilles, if you will).
Milk candy, in other words.
I tried my hand making them a while back, but it was laborious, all that stirring and watching over the milk, the worrying about scorching and burning the milk, the constant scraping of the bottom of the pot... I believe it was not long after that experience that I discovered (or searched for, perhaps) the existence of a shortcut way of making pastillas de leche.
For this version, all one needs is condensed milk and powdered milk. Of course, this makes sense, for what is condensed milk if not cooked down milk with sugar?
If I can't have carabao milk, then I'll definitely take condensed milk. Besides, it's a badly-kept secret how much I love condensed milk. (You cannot even imagine.)
The condensed milk and powdered milk are combined, then formed into little logs.
There are two ways this log shape can be achieved. One can pinch off a piece from the mixture and form those into logs individually. Or, one can form a long strip with the milk mixture and cut off segments, much like how one would make gnocchi.
Dulce de Leche variation
If you were feeling a wee bit industrious, you can heat up the mixture until it becomes a tad caramelized and becomes a faux dulce de leche.
Or, even easier, simply buy dulce de leche.
What a fantastic idea: dulce de leche pastillas!
The shaped logs are then coated in granulated sugar.
I don't know what I was thinking or doing, but somehow I don't think I added enough powdered milk to the condensed milk. See how loose my mixture is? Each "log" is blob-by and spreading out!
The mixture needs to be more dough-like in consistency.
My pastillas are so weird and flat!
Earl Grey Tea variation
I thought I'd be hoity-toity and have some Earl Grey tea-scented pastillas.
One could go about this in a number of ways. But, the simplest I found was simply dumping a bit of the tea into my granulated sugar. If your leaves are large, or if you have whole-leaf tea, then give them a buzz in a spice grinder first. I could've added the tea to the condensed milk-powdered milk mixture directly, but I wanted to keep that pure.
See the bowl of sugar on the bottom right? It has some tea dumped in it.
After the roll in sugar, each log is wrapped in paper. Actually, each piece is wrapped in regular paper, then the paper-wrapped log is wrapped in tissue paper.
I must confess, though, I gave up wrapping mine. What's the point of wrapping them up when they were to be devoured a few minutes afterwards anyway? We don't know what self-control is.
(There is a demo of the wrapping of which I speak in the embedded video at the end of the post.)
I don't know if I had eaten all the Earl Grey ones, but somehow these guys were the only ones left for the photo shoot. But, look up there, there's a piece there with Earl Grey tea specks.
As you may have gathered, pastillas de leche lend themselves to countless variations.
While there are traditional variations (like citrus zest, purple yam, jackfruit, coconut, squash), why not try matcha, coffee, or any of the myriad types of teas?
Or try adding avocado, because you know avocado and condensed milk go so well together.
GENIUS IDEA -- why not try a play on Cuban Guava and Cheese Pastries and add guava paste and cream cheese to the mixture? WOWZA!
Yes, why not add some sort of cheese?
Or, instead of tropical fruits, one can add berry purée to the mixture, either solo or mixed. Or a purée of any stone fruit (your peaches, your nectarines, your apricots).
Or an apple butter.
Or a nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter).
Or speculoos cookie butter. SPECULOOS COOKIE BUTTER!
Or, leaning towards more adventurous flavorings, how about saffron pastillas de leche?
Or lavender pastillas?
Of course, there are all those spices!
Or add a textural component to the lot -- crushed nuts, pinipig, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, sesame seeds, chia seeds -- either into the mixture or as part of the coating.
It doesn't really matter how my pastillas de leche turned out this time, because for me, it's just an excuse to eat condensed milk.
Eating it straight out of the can seems a little gauche, but how the addition of a little powdered milk changes everything!
Perhaps, though, you will make yours nice and pretty. =)
For more pastillas de leche reading, check out the post on Tangled Noodle.
Sugar Pills: Pastillas de Leche
It's good stuff.
Pastillas de Leche, No-Cook Version
2 to 3 cups powdered milk
1 can (300 mL) condensed milk
granulated sugar, for rolling
paper or cellophane, cut to size
Use dulce de leche instead of condensed milk.
Add any sort of texture component (pinipig, shredded coconut, crushed nuts, etc.) either in the milk mixture, or as coating.
Add fruit purée to the mixture for fruit-flavored pastillas de leche.
Add an appropriate cooked vegetable purée to the mixture (eg, squash/pumpkin, taro, purple yam, etc.).
Add any nut butter.
Mix together condensed milk and powdered milk until the consistency of dough.
Scoop out about a tablespoon's worth of "dough" and roll into a log. Roll log in granulated sugar until coated. Repeat until all the milk mixture is done.
Wrap each log in paper or cellophane.
A video by Pinay Cooking Lessons for your reference: