Sweet Filipino shortbread

Sweet Filipino shortbread


7000 Islands
20 small; 12 large
Jana Liebenstein

‘Prepared homestyle by the students of Anihan’ was written on the tag of the small package of polvoron. I fell for its flavour and story. At the technical school in Laguna, culinary scholarships are offered to financially challenged females through sales made from their delicious goodies.

Today, these melt-in-your-mouth biscuits made with toasted flour come in a variety of flavours; this recipe is inspired by Anihan’s version, with crisped young rice flakes. Toasting flour can take practice; it should be fragrant but not burnt — look for a light camel colour. While traditional polvoron moulders from specialist Filipino grocery stores do the best job, a pastry cutter can be used.


Quantity Ingredient
150g plain flour, sifted
80g caster sugar
50g full-cream milk powder
10g green rice flakes
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter, melted
clear cellophane and coloured tissue paper, for wrapping, (optional)


  1. Place the flour in a frying pan and cook over medium–high heat for 12–15 minutes, flipping the flour in the pan constantly, until toasted and tan in colour. Use a wooden spoon to break up any clumps, if necessary. Immediately remove from the heat and sift into a bowl. Sift over the sugar and milk powder, then whisk to combine. Cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, place the rice flakes in a small frying pan over medium–high heat and cook for 8–10 minutes, flipping them in the pan, until golden and toasted. Transfer to a bowl and cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the vanilla and melted butter, then add to the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Add the rice flakes and, using your hands, gently combine well.
  4. Line a tray with baking paper. Using a polvoron moulder, fill with the mixture, pressing to pack very firmly, then press the button to release the mixture onto the tray. Alternatively, place a 4.5 cm round cookie cutter on the tray, then fill with 3 tablespoons of the polvoron mixture. Using your fingers, pack the mixture very firmly, then push the mixture while pulling up the cutter to release. Wipe the moulder or cutter clean, then repeat with the remaining mixture to make 20 or 12 polvoron. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Serve the polvoron or wrap individually with cellopane, then tissue paper, if using.
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