In India, milk is simmered for hours until only dense, nut-like solids remain. They are mixed with sugar and spices such as cardamom and saffron to make burfi, a garnish that may include pistachios and silver leaf. Unlike dulce de leche, where milk is boiled with sugar until it thickens to a golden brown, here the milk remains white — burfi comes from Persian for snow — and tastes purer.
Knead and shape, dust with powdered sugar, and that’s it – you can eat right away.
The same is true in the Philippines, where these mooncakes are called pastillas de leche. Although the name is Spanish, a legacy of over three centuries of colonialism, there doesn’t seem to be any precedent for it in Spanish food. (The archipelago is home to some 180 languages, and Filipinos are free to switch from one to another, folding English and Spanish at will, sometimes in the same sentence.) Pastilla is a shape, like a rhombus; leche is The milk, originally from carabao (buffaloes) farming the fields in San Miguel, a small town in Bulacan province, north of Manila.
Boiling milk is time-consuming and requires vigilance. Published in February, Abi Balingit’s cookbook “Mayumu” (“sweet” in Kapampangan, the main language of the Philippines) offers a very simple no-bake shortcut: Sift whole milk powder and salt, then mix condensed milk until a dough forms. Knead, shape, dust with icing sugar and that’s it – there’s no waiting; you can eat right away.
Balingit, 28, started posting recipes on her blog dark kitchen In the summer of 2020, as a way to deal with the isolation of the pandemic and the separation from her Bay Area family. (She grew up there and now lives in Brooklyn.) The title of the blog is a reflection on the dim lighting in her apartment—a little sunlight streaming into the kitchen from the only window in the living room—and the only time she was able to bake: when she and Her three roommates work from home, keeping their laptops in the corner, and the walls are too thin for her to run a stand mixer without interrupting everyone’s attention. “I was Zooming all day and baking all night,” she said.