The ultimate act of sweetness is giving out sweets as presents for Christmas. All the hype of the season is probably from sugar overload instead of Christmas cheer.
Sweets have always been a part of the Philippine Christmas tradition. It is not cookies that we give away but sweet fruit preserves and milk candies. Although cakes and cookies have also now been a part of the modern Christmas celebration, the old fashioned sweets have never been forgotten.
Pastillas de leche (literally translated as milk pastilles) is one of the best loved classic Filipino sweets. The original recipe involved reducing carabao's milk until pasty. These are formed into batons and rolled in sugar. The flavour is creamy yet delicate. In the olden days they were wrapped in Japanese paper with intricate cutouts on trailing tails. These are served with pride on special tall tiered dishes to show the designs to their advantage. Nowadays, plain white paper wraps the sweets but are nonetheless special.
This recipe is a quick and easy recipe for pastillas. This is not the usual white pastillas de leche but is a caramel version called pastillas tostado (simply meaning toasted pastillas). This pastillas has a creamy caramel flavour that is well loved and appreciated by many. These little nuggets of sweetness are the perfect gifts to share to special friends and family this Christmas season.
1 c. fresh whole milk
2 c. full cream powdered milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. butter
extra sugar for rolling (about 1/4 c.)
Put the 2 kinds of milk and the 1/2 c. sugar in a pan. Mix.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, while constantly stirring on low heat until thick and caramel coloured.
Mix in the butter.
Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
Cut into strips, then roll into 1/2" diameter batons. Cut into 2 inch lengths then roll in sugar.
Wrap in squares of cellophane.
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