Tsokolate: Filipino Hot Chocolate

Tsokolate

Although cacao trees flourish in the tropical climes of the Philippines, chocolate is not indigenous to the islands. In fact, like a few other Filipino foods, chocolate was introduced to the Philippines by Spain via Mexico (the cacao tree IS indigenous to parts of Central and South America).

In fact, according to many historical accounts, the ancient Mayans are credited with the invention of hot chocolate. Originally, the Mayans simply ground native cacao beans and spices into a paste, and then frothed the mixture into water and served this concoction hot. Soon, the Aztecs were introduced to cacao beans and made a similar chocolate brew of their own–though it was a cold drink that was served during religious ceremonies and human sacrifices (oh, those crazy Aztecs).

Then one day, some Spanish dude named Cortez arrived in Mexico and was peacefully received by Aztec emperor Montezuma. As the story goes, Montezuma presented Cortez with a frothy cup of chocolate out of simple good will. In return, Cortez wiped out the entire Aztec civilization (oh, those crazy Spaniards).

Finally, to make a long story a little bit less long, about a hundred (give or take) years later the Spanish took the cacao trees (as well as the Mexican custom of drinking chocolate) from their Mexican colony and introduced it to their Philippine colony. Thus, Filipinos started growing their own cacao trees, and then making and drinking their own form of hot chocolate known as Tsokolate.

Tsokolate is made from chocolate discs, or tablets, known as Tablea.
Tablea are made from pure cacao nibs that are roasted, ground, and then mixed with a
bit of sugar. And depending on the region of the Philippines, some
ground peanuts may also be added to the tablea.

Tsokolate5

Tablea for two.

Here in the States, Tablea can be easily found at Filipino markets. But if you still can’t find a source for Filipino chocolate, Mexican chocolate tablets found at Latin markets will also do in a pinch.

To make Filipino Tsokolate, a tablea or two is dissolved in some hot water and then mixed and frothed with a wooden whisk called a Batidor (Mexicans call the same tool a Molinillo). For an in-depth look at Batidors, see this post on Market Manila.

If you don’t have a Batidor, a regular whisk works just fine for making Tsokolate–though I myself prefer the horsepower of my handy-dandy stick blender.

Tsokolate3-400wi

Stick Blender = Modern Day Batidor

After frothing the tablea and water, the resultant mix is a thick and rich drink of nutty and gritty hot chocolate.

Although Tsokolate is delicious and perfect on its own, it can be jazzed up a bit. For starters, you can use milk instead of water for an even creamier brew. You can also add a pinch of cayenne or chili powder for a more Mexican spin, and if you’re so inclined, a dribble of vanilla extract is also a welcome addition. If you really want to put your fancy pants on, a cinnamon stick makes for a snazzy stirring rod.

To pick up your morning pick-up, dissolving a tablea or two in a hot cup of coffee makes for a wonderful Pinoy mocha, especially if made with Filipino Barako coffee beans.

Tsokolate4

Filipino chocolate mocha.

And aside from coffee, I’ve found that Tsokolate can be adjusted even more to the adult palate by adding a little booze. Lately, I’ve become accustomed to icing down my Tsokolate, and then adding some vodka and Kahlua for my take on a White Russian cocktail: The Filipino Russian.

Tsokolate6

Hey, careful man! There’s a beverage here!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve managed to yet again turn an innocent drink into a cocktail–though it be a wonderfully chocolaty and creamy cocktail at that.

In spite of my own tweaks and adaptations to Filipino Tsokolate, it’s still amazing to look back at how a hot chocolate drink in South America ended up as a wholly different hot chocolate drink in the Philippines. Tsokolate is a thick and rich drink of wonderfully gritty and bittersweet
chocolate–a nutty concoction that was sorely missing from my nutty
childhood.

As a youngster, when I wasn’t zapping gummy bears in the microwave (a mesmerizing exercise for a young boy), I was often nuking mugfuls of milk with which to make hot chocolate. I then fortified this microwaved mug o’milk with a few spoonfuls of instant cocoa powder. Most
often, this magical mix of “chocolate” came in the form of Nestle Quik,
but sometimes it was Hershey’s, and a few other times Ovaltine even
made a cocoa cameo at our household.

Ah, A Christmas Story. It’s a classic.

Anyways, despite the seemingly rich array of cocoa goodness available to me as a wee lad, I now know that none of those powdered potables can hold a candle to Filipino Tsokolate.

Tsokolate2

BESURETODRINKYOURTSOKOLATE.

I suspect that had I been raised on the more flavorful and pungent
brew of Filipino hot chocolate, I might have grown up to be a cage
fighter, or a zombie hunter, or perhaps a ninja assassin. At the very
least, I’d have more hair on my chest–Tsokolate is just that gritty
and bitter, but deliciously so.

Tsokolate: Filipino Hot Chocolate

Makes 1 serving

1-2 Filipino chocolate tableas (Found at Filipino markets)
1 cup hot water or milk

In a small bowl, combine the tablea and water (the more tableas you use, the thicker and richer the drink). Using a whisk or stick blender, mix until the chocolate has dissolved and the liquid becomes thick and frothy. Pour the Tsokolate into a mug and enjoy.

To make a Filipino mocha, simply mix tablea with a cup of hot coffee.

Filipino Russian

Makes 1 serving

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Kahlua
2 ounces cold Tsokolate (preferably made with milk)

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker, shake well to combine, then strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Cheers.


  • Jacqueilne Church October 25, 2009, 5:42 pm

    Did you know that Askinosie is not sourcing cacao in the Philippines? It’s delicious, too.

    Reply
  • Jikuu October 25, 2009, 5:49 pm

    I JUST got done asking my grandmother about the Tortang before you put this up. Oh well. I can get her again tomorrow.
    I actually have never heard of this before, so thank you for the information! I’ll have to look for this. I like hot chocolate, but haven’t been too crazy about the super-sweet stuff on shelves. Would adding cayenne still be a good idea?
    Hope the baby’s not making you and your wife crazy. =P

    Reply
  • Jikuu October 25, 2009, 5:50 pm

    EDIT: Whoops. I didn’t read throughly enough. Sorry!

    Reply
  • Tuty October 25, 2009, 6:21 pm

    Love hot cocoa…anytime of the year. Thanks for sharing this since I was not familiar with this cocoa tableas/tsokolate. Gotta hunt for it :)

    Reply
  • Remil Mangali October 25, 2009, 6:27 pm

    I still drink this from time to time. My mom adds peanut butter for extra richness. She also uses evaporated milk & hot water rather than regular milk since fresh milk wasn’t always available back in the Philippines. I also use a stick blender while making it in the kitchen then a batidor when serving to my guests.

    Reply
  • Jeff Matel October 25, 2009, 6:56 pm

    yeah!!! new entry!!!
    oh i love hot chocolate. i remember, my lola used to make us a cup of this everytime she brought home packs she bought on the nearby grocery store.
    perfect pair with suman, bibingka and puto bumbong. :)

    Reply
  • cameron October 25, 2009, 8:40 pm

    Tis sad really, you would have been a great zombie hunter.

    Reply
  • wasabi prime October 25, 2009, 10:22 pm

    This sounds awesome. Especially given the fact that in a week’s time, I think the state of Washington went from a pleasant fall to a miserable drowning-in-winter downpour. Hot chocolate? Yes, please. Hot chocolate with booze? Even better. I dig the Dude reference. Will have to keep an eye out for those tablets! They seem like a great ingredient for making ice cream or even a milkshake!

    Reply
  • Manggy October 25, 2009, 11:19 pm

    It’s never too late to become a cage fighter! :) Look at you setting up the photo all pretty with the banig and the hanky! 😉
    You just reminded me of that Naked Gun scene where Frank orders a Black Russian…

    Reply
  • Jason Sandeman October 26, 2009, 7:48 am

    I love your post, and especially your take on the history of the dish. Great job!
    I have a disk of mexican chocolate given to me from a friend who visited South America. Perhaps I will give this recipe a try.

    Reply
  • Lorena October 26, 2009, 9:49 am

    Yummy – I love when my Mexican and Filipino heritages intersect! In that same vein, I made the eggplant with chorizo this weekend and it went over very well with my carnivorous dinner mates (and my vegetarian version wasn’t bad either with soyrizo). Yum!
    Thanks, Marvin, for all the great food (and now drinks)!

    Reply
  • Words and Nosh October 26, 2009, 10:40 am

    Good call on whisking. Simply stirring is not enough– my tsokolate was always too watery so I knew I was doing it wrong! Now I’m out of tablea… time to find more!

    Reply
  • Cheryl October 26, 2009, 11:56 am

    Interesting, that is why I love food blogging, I learn so much about other cultures!

    Reply
  • beancounter October 26, 2009, 4:12 pm

    thanks for the historical background…funny and informative at the same time… i did a post on this recently as well…got my tablea from Dumaguete…

    Reply
  • Leela@SheSimmers October 26, 2009, 6:30 pm

    I always learn new things every time I come here. Never heard of this Tsokolate thing until today. Is it like Ibarra? I’m kind of apprehensive about any drinking chocolate that comes with sugar already mixed in. With Ibarra, I always have to add more unsweetened chocolate.
    I like your idea of adding booze to it, though. Nothing wrong with that AT ALL. :)

    Reply
  • kridabo October 27, 2009, 4:59 am

    Stumbled across this entry on Foodgawker, then spent a good half hour looking back through older entries *is a dork* I love the personality you give to food blogging ^-^ Much fun to read =]

    Reply
  • marguerite October 28, 2009, 9:42 am

    OMG LOL – great post!!!!

    Reply
  • Beth October 29, 2009, 10:51 am

    You know it’s good tsokolate when you see that slick oil on top of the liquid. Yummo.

    Reply
  • Mike October 29, 2009, 6:33 pm

    Oh man, I can’t believe I actually recalled something from history class. My memory is a little foggy, but I remember Tsokolate has two different versions. Tsokolate-e which is thicker, this is kind that is served to the rich/clergy. While Tsokolate-a is the more watered down version which is served to commoners.
    I’m familiar with Tablea, but the Tsokolate I knew growing up was in paste form, kinda like a gritty nutella.

    Reply
  • Min October 29, 2009, 8:19 pm

    Cool! My Dad always brings tablea back and I never really know what to do with it. He always told me we use it for hot chocolate/champorado, but yet when I do see him make either or, I see him reach for the Hershey’s powder. :) Since it’s getting cold, this is perfect. Thanks!

    Reply
  • MzPCandii October 29, 2009, 9:28 pm

    My mom makes this a lot and it is one of my fave drinks ever!
    (Although she makes it in a pot and blends it in a blender.)
    Mmm, I want some now!

    Reply
  • Tangled Noodle October 30, 2009, 6:57 am

    Just made some a few days ago! I plan to stock up when we visit P.I. for Christmas. I want to try turning it into a sauce for churros – any ideas on how to do so?
    I’m all about the Filipino Mocha but the hubs will no doubt choose the more mature Fili-Russian concoction!

    Reply
  • Lori Lynn October 30, 2009, 3:58 pm

    Of course you had to make a boozey version. (oh, you crazy blogger).
    I like the coffee addition too.
    LL

    Reply
  • Katherine October 31, 2009, 6:46 pm

    OMG I love your post. It takes me back to when I was little and my yaya would give me a cup before school. I would dip the pandesal in it. By the way your wooden spoon and fork are very familiar to me. My aunt used to chase me around with it when I was little. she was Naglilihi or craving while she was pregnant. Her crave was to make me cry ehehhe.

    Reply
  • Bianca November 3, 2009, 4:58 pm

    I’m Filipino American but have never heard about Filipino Hot Chocolate! Thank you for giving the history on this delish treat! I look forward to making it!

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia November 10, 2009, 2:31 pm

    I did not know that, Jacqueline. But thanks for the tip, I’ve never heard of Askinosie.
    Hi Jikuu. Definitely look for some tablea, it’s not overly sweet at all.
    Hi Tuty! Happy hunting to you!
    Hi Remil. Oooh, peanut butter! I bet that would make the drink even thicker and rich.
    You’re right, Jeff. Suman, bibingka, and puto would all pair well with tsokolate.
    Thanks cam. I think so too;)
    Hey there WP! I’m glad someone got the Dude reference. And I’m way ahead of you on the ice cream… stay tuned.
    Hi manggy. I’ve been trying like mad to make things presentable in my pics–my batting average at foodgawker and tastespotting is woefully low.
    Thanks Jason! Mexican chocolate works just as well, though less peanutty.
    I’m glad you liked the tortang Lorena!
    Yes, words and nosh. A good whisking is necessary for good froth!
    I’m glad I could help you learn about Filipino food, Cheryl.
    Thanks beancounter! I wish I could get some tablea from Dumaguete.
    Hey leela. It’s similar to Ibarra, though Filipino chocolate tends to have peanuts mixed in.
    Thanks kridabo. I hope you visit often.
    Thanks marguerite.
    I didn’t notice it before, but you’re right Beth! That slick of oil is a tell-tale sign of good chocolate.
    I’d never heard about the two different versions, Mike. I wonder which tsokolate I have as it seems to be fairly rich.
    You’re welcome, Min!
    Thanks MzPCandii
    You’re so lucky that you’re visiting P.I. for Christmas Tangled Noodle. As far as the sauce, perhaps just use less liquid with the tablea to form a thick paste.
    Of course I did, LL! Did you expect something else?
    Yikes, Katherine! That’s a strange craving!
    I’m glad I could introduce tsokolate to you Bianca.

    Reply
  • iya November 26, 2009, 9:12 pm

    nice presentation! :)
    namiss ko tuloy yung sikwate from cebu! :) yum!

    Reply
  • Ferrero Rocher philippines February 22, 2010, 7:02 pm

    Wow! good that you shared this ingredients its easy but yet so delicious,i love it. Will certainly visit your site more often now. :)
    vee

    Reply
  • Lynn March 4, 2010, 3:34 pm

    yum, that looks delish!

    Reply
  • viagra online April 14, 2010, 1:08 pm

    this kind of topic lends itself to a good review, because when it comes to hot things can be interpreted in many ways, sometimes comic, sometimes seriously, in order to thank them for sharing the information!

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  • Mia April 26, 2010, 9:06 pm

    I love tsokolate! I always ask my mom to send me some tableas from the Philippines when she comes to visit. I’ve tried the Mexican variation with the cayenne which is great in the winter. Lately I’ve been adding lavender-infused honey into it. Yum!

    Reply
  • Michelle May 29, 2010, 7:13 pm

    Thanks for this post! Whenever a relative would come from the Philippines, they’d bring tsokolate. Thing is, no one told me how to prepare it! Now I wanna hit up Seafood City and get my hands on some tablea to try making this.

    Reply
  • maria July 8, 2010, 9:35 am

    NOw I’ve read your blog, I’m hungry for hot chocolate !!

    Reply
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies September 23, 2010, 9:52 am

    Wow! what a beautiful work. I am enjoy reading your Hot Chocolate Recipe post.

    Reply
  • Cha January 15, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I am lucky that we have in our province so many cacaos. I am luckier that I know how to make the main ingredient of hot chocolate: the tablea! Since I know how to make them, I really don’t appreciate those tableas sold commercially. They have lots of sugar and some include starch as one of their ingredients. Mine is bitter-sweet that I have difficulty in forming them into balls since it only has a little amount of sugar. But patience really pays off! :)

    Reply
  • hotels paris October 8, 2012, 8:24 am

    I still drink this from time to time. My mom adds peanut butter for extra richness. She also uses evaporated milk hot water rather than regular milk since fresh milk wasnt always available back in the Philippines. I also use a stick blender while making it in the kitchen then a batidor when serving to my guests.
    +1

    Reply
  • MacKenzie December 8, 2012, 11:11 am

    I can’t wait to use this on a project for Spanish!!!

    Reply
  • mara November 26, 2013, 9:02 am

    I’ve actually eaten raw tablea before and as weird as it might sound, it tastes good. it also makes your breath smell like the ground beans in a coffee shop..
    and…. I’m not exactly sure if that is a good thing..
    Any who, I just found your blog today and thank you so much for introducing me to new ways of using chocolate tablea! I’m going to try that chocolate barako and tablea combination soon :)

    Reply

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