A box of superb pastillas de leche is hard to beatâ€¦ while it is something I associate with the holidays, along with pastillas de ube and other delicacies, this is one sweet that I can eat throughout the year. As long as it is made well, send them over! I have tried hundreds of pastillas de leche in my lifetime and it is amazing how much variety in quality, taste, look and feel from just three basic ingredientsâ€¦ milk, sugar and citrus peel/juice. I was going to attempt to make my own this Christmas season but I never got around to it (did make some pastillas de ube though, post to follow). Thank goodness I have a pretty good source for my pastillas requirementsâ€¦
I have never made pastillas de leche but as a consumer, I can tell you that I like them soft to medium firmness, with a distinct milk (carabaoâ€™s milk, that is) flavor and just the right amount of sweetness. The addition of dayap rind is a necessity for me. Not lemon, not calamansi, but good small native dayap. Yum. Earlier in the year, I considered the pastillas de leche of DVF (available at several upscale markets) to be pretty good, particularly if you got them freshâ€¦ soft, flavorful and just the right amount of sweetness, I was content to get a box or two every so often. The pastillas themselves were rather small though reasonably priced at PHP80-90 a box.
Lately, however, I discovered that my egg provedore at FTI in Taguig also sells nice small native dayaps at his stall. I almost always buy every dayap they have as it is hard to find the smaller fruits these days and I find their fragrance to be incredibly appealing, even if just used as a room freshener! At any rate, one day, I spied boxes of pastillas de leche at the same stall and the owner let on that they were made by her niece using fresh carabaoâ€™s milk and the dayap from their farmâ€¦ the taste was absolutely delicious and the dayap flavor really noticeable. And the sizes of the pastillas were generous, the way I recall them 30 years agoâ€¦ so I have continued to buy from this stall whenever they have them, which is not too often. For Christmas this year, I reserved 10 boxes and even placed a massive depositâ€¦letâ€™s hope they make it to the market this Friday or it will be a pastillas-less Christmas!