Making pulboron will always take me back to the memory of how my lola (grandmother) first introduced them to us. I was about 4 or 5 and my lola showed us her pulboron mold in our kitchen and from there just started to make them right in front of us. It was almost like watching a magician transforming a dry powdery mixture into these perfectly shaped cookies that melt into a sweet, buttery, slightly nutty flavor in your mouth! Some people describe them as Filipino shortbread cookies, but to me that isn’t very accurate. They are lighter and powdery and crumbly, but in a good way in that they have milk powder, which dissolves quickly and creates a very smooth and pleasant mouthfeel.
Since then, they’ve always been my favorite Filipino candy/cookie, and I like the seemingly endless varieties that one can find nowadays! Oreos pulboron! Ube pulboron! Coffee pulboron! Matcha pulboron! If you can think it up, it probably exists somewhere! I do like these brown butter ones. If you don’t like the brown butter specks, you can always strain them out beforehand. For me, I think that’s the best part.
I mainly wanted to find out if one could bake the flour beforehand instead of using the stovetop method of toasting the flour, which requires that you stir the flour constantly in a saucepan over a stove for about 20 minutes. And it turns out, the flour can be baked instead! So happy how these turned out! Feel free to toast the flour the traditional way over a stove, but I consider this method to be a slightly easier method with no noticeable difference to the final product.
brown butter pulboron (about 2 dozen small cookies or 15 larger ones) (Recipe based on this)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk powder (I used malted milk powder because that’s what I had on hand, but any milk powder would do.)
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used caster sugar, which is finer)
1/8 teaspoon fine salt (only add if using unsalted butter)
4 ounces unsalted butter, browned, lukewarm (can use regular melted butter without browning)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the flour out all over the entire surface of the parchment paper on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until slightly tanned in color. Stir to get whiter flour underneath to be on top of the toasted flour and place back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
In a medium to large bowl, combine the milk powder, sugar, and salt and stir with a whisk several times to get all the ingredients mixed together.
When flour is toasted, pour directly into bowl with the milk powder, sugar, and salt and continue to stir with a whisk until the flour is mixed in well. (It doesn’t need to be cooled before being used.)
Finally, pour the melted but cooled brown butter to the mixture and stir with a spatula until all the dry ingredients are moistened by the butter. The mixture will look like wet sand and will clump up when pressed together.
Using a mold, carefully make pulboron and place each on a baking sheet. When done, place in the freezer for 2 hours, then wrap in cellophane or paper wrapper squares that are at least 5 times the diameter of a single pulboron.
If you want to get fancy, you could add extra ingredients like finely chopped nuts or toasted rice, or my favorite, ground up oreo cookies!