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Pan de San Nicolas - Filipino Heirloom Butter Cookies

My recipe for Pan de San Nicolas - Filipino Heirloom Butter Cookies was adapted from the original of Atching Lillian Borromeo, of Pampanga. She said this cookie recipe has been in her family since the 19th century. They are basic butter cookies that have the thickness of shortbread. I substituted some of the original ingredients to adapt to the American climate and my kitchen. To shape the cookies, I used heirloom wooden cookie molds purchased from Mrs. Borromeo in Pampanga. This recipe was adapted from her cookbook "Atching Lillian's Heirloom Recipes". Makes 18 to 20 cookies.
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time12 mins
Resting Time38 mins
Total Time1 d 50 mins
Course: Dessert, Merienda, Snacks
Cuisine: Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Filipino Pan de San Nicolas Cookies
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 1022kcal


  • Heirloom cookie wooden molds from Pampanga
  • Springerle cookie molds


  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 whole egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted softened butter or margarine room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl: Cornstarch, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg yolks, coconut milk, butter, lemon zest and oil.
    Blend with a wooden spoon.
    Add the cake flour and the rice flour. Knead into a mixture that looks like a thick, smooth dough. Mixing by hand will take 10 minutes.
  • Place the dough in an airtight container and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
  • The next day, take the dough out of the freezer. Thaw on the counter for 8 hours or more if needed. Keep the dough cold so it is easy to roll out.
  • Pre-heat oven to 325 F.

To shape the cookies:

  • Grease with baking spray or shortening the surface of the wooden San Nicolas cookie molds. Be sure to grease the inside crevices and corners of the cookie mold.
    Place about 1/4 cup of the dough over one San Nicolas cookie mold, over the hand-carved portion. Flatten with your hand to spread evenly.
    Place a piece of wax or parchment paper over the dough. Using a small rolling pin, roll and flatten the dough so it gets embedded in the design.
  • Place a round or oval cookie cutter over the dough on top of the San Nicolas mold. Cut to the appropriate size and shape needed. Trim the edges of the cookie.
    Turn over the cookie mold and transfer the shaped dough on a greased baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    Repeat shaping process for all the cookies.

To bake cookies:

  • Bake the Pan de San Nicolas at 325 F for 10 to 12 minutes.
    When done, transfer cookies on a rack to cool down. It will take 30 to 40 minutes for cookies to cool.

To wrap and store:

  • Wrap the baked Pan de San Nicolas in transparent cellophane. Store in airtight cookie tins. Keeps up to 1 week without refrigeration.
    Refrigerate or freeze cookies to last longer if preferred.

Cook's comments:

  • The original recipe of Mrs. Borromeo used 2 cups arrow root flour (uraru in the Philippines). I substituted with rice flour because I couldn't find arrow root flour in my suburban supermarket.

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Serving: 1g | Calories: 1022kcal | Carbohydrates: 167g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 473mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 22IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 2mg