Polvo or dust are a perfect description of this sweet flour cake or shortbread. They require no cooking besides the melting of fat to keep it together. This treat is of Spanish origin and is mostly made in Andalusia. Since the Spanish settled the Philippines three centuries ago, these treats are also a staple there as well. Word has it that the Spanish are not the original creators but rather that the Moors brought them to the Spaniards.
During the Spanish Inquisition, Polvorons were prepared using pig fat or lard, as a means to sift out non-Christian citizens such as Jews and Muslims. Some still make theirs with lard today. Most are made with butter or even olive oil, and the Filipino version uses lots of dried milk. In Cuba, it is a popular and tasty ice cream flavor.
How to make Polvoron? ( Pulvoron/Pulboron/Pulburon )
Chopped cashews, peanuts, chocolate chips, or “pinipig”, which are roasted rice puffs, can be added to this recipe for different flavors. Toasting the flour gives the Polvoron a nuttiness without the addition of nuts. They are served in colorful plastic cellophane just like Yema, a sticky egg candy also widely eaten in the Philippines that is of Spanish decent. Yema and Polvorons are mostly served during Catholic holidays such as Christmas. However, now they have become a standard treat to eat with your morning coffee or a little afternoon Mama Juana Drink.
When a friend’s Filipino grandmother made these for us one Easter, she talked about how her town would always have a festival, and these were a staple of the celebration. They dry your mouth out a bit, so make sure to consume them with a beverage. Some festivals have a contest of seeing who can eat a Polvoron fastest and then whistle a tune since they fill your mouth with powdery sweetness.
Are you ready to not cook this dessert! Perfect for those unbearably hot days when you cannot stand to turn an oven on. Like I said before, the only cooking you need to do is melt some butter and mix and press the dough. Best shortbread ever.