The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

A cultural twist on sweet treats for your special someone

3 min read

Use red and pink decor, like tissue paper, to dress up your treats. | Daniel Rozzel


Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and whether you have that special someone or you’re still searching for a sweetheart of your own, it is undeniable that sweets and candies have become a staple of the holiday. While the holiday is traditionally dominated by various chocolates, cookies, and brownies, I’ve decided to share a recipe for a classic Filipino sweet; Pastillas de Leche. These treats have a special place in my heart. All throughout my childhood, I would come home from school and see that my mother had made these, and it never failed to put a smile on my face. I often found myself consuming one too many and being on the receiving end of a lecture, but their creamy goodness always seemed worth it. With these sweets, you’ll be able to warm the heart of that special someone.

Pastillas de Leche is a traditional Filipino sweet made from the milk of Carabao (water buffalo) by farmers who used them on their rice plantations. Over time, the recipe has adapted to use various types of milk and ingredients for a treat that is easy to make and versatile. Today I will cover two variations of Pastillas de Leche: uncooked and cooked. The former is a simple and easy recipe for quick and delicious, soft pastillas. The latter dish has a longer cooking time but yields a tasty hard candied version of the treat. The cooked recipe is also more traditional!

Let’s get started!

Pastillas de Leche (Uncooked):

This recipe will help you make a softer version of the pastillas.

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: None

Yields: Approximately 40 pieces

  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • White granulated sugar(for coating)

Step 1) Pour your can of sweetened condensed milk into a large mixing bowl. It is important to ensure that this bowl has enough room to mix the condensed milk and the powdered milk together.

Step 2) Slowly add-in and fold the powdered milk into the condensed milk. Make sure you use a rubber spatula to actually fold the powdered milk into the mixture! The powdered milk should be added a little at a time until the mixture becomes dough-like.

Step 3) Finally remove a piece of dough ⁠— any size will do, but I kept mine pretty small. These are traditionally rolled into a log or ball but you can be creative and form it into any shape you like. Then roll your creation in your granulated sugar to fully coat it for that final sweet goodness.

Pastillas de Leche (Cooked):

This recipe will help you make a hardened version of the pastillas de leches.

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 45-60 mins

Yields: Approximately 40 pieces


  • 1 large can (370 ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (300 ml) condensed milk
  • ¼ cup powdered milk

Step 1) Add the evaporated milk into a non-stick pan on low heat. Let this mixture simmer until it reaches a low boil. Remember to stir periodically to avoid any of the heated milk resting on the sides of the pan.

Step 2) Once you reach a low boil add the condensed milk, stir periodically. Stir the mixture until it has been reduced and reaches a thicker sauce-like substance.

Step 3) Once the desired consistency is reached, add powdered milk, folding it in as you stir. Do this until the entire mixture thickens. Then pour this mixture into a bowl or plate lined with parchment paper. Wait for the mixture to cool down before forming it.

Step 4) Once again, creativity is key here. After the mixture has cooled, you can create any size or shape piece you want. Afterward, remember to roll it in sugar to add the final touches.

Bonus Tips: You can adjust the flavor of these by adding in various different ingredients such as vanilla extract, or orange/lemon zest, or juice. Just be sure not to add too much juice to prevent the mixture from becoming liquidy. For some of the pastillas, I used some ube which is a purple yam and is very prevalent in the Philippines.

Finally, you can use some tissue paper and ribbons to tie off your sweets to help make them more presentable and finish off the Valentine look. Now you have a new way to win the heart of that special someone in a non-traditional way!

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