It’s the season for a warm drink indulgence. While you’d love a satisfying bowl of arroz caldo or sotanghon when it’s pouring outside, it’s a hot beverage that’s easier to prepare. But this time, forget Milo (which isn’t even chocolate) or Swiss Miss dissolved in steaming water and treat yourself to a hot cup of real and rich chocolate made from tablea.
The preparation is simple, but not as quick as its 3-in-1 counterparts. This is probably the reason it’s not as popular. In Rizal’s time, however, tsokolate was a popular beverage among Spaniards and Filipinos alike.
Quick facts: The first cacao plant arrived in our country from Mexico via the galleon trade and was propagated in the Philippine islands and neighboring countries. The authentic chocolate, however, remained exclusive to the rich during the Spanish time. If you paid attention to your Noli and El Fili classes, you’d be familiar with tsokolate eh or what social status you must have to be drinking it. Tsokolate eh was a concoction of rich and thick cacao drink, while its cheaper equivalent, tsokolate ah, had more water diluting the cacao and was enjoyed by the masses.
Today, both types are used to distinguish not the quality or a person’s social status, but the cacao content one prefers. If served over bread or rice cake, the thicker version should be more satisfying. As a beverage on a cold day, a watery tsokolate is just fine.
I would look for good sources of tablea or find out which cafes serve the best artisan tsokolate, but that means longer research time. Perhaps a follow-up article? But first, the recipe.
For a single-served tsokolate, you need:
1 piece tablea
1 cup milk
muscovado or brown sugar, 1 tsp or to taste (optional)
First, break the tablea into small pieces. Heat the milk in a small saucepan and add the tablea, stirring constantly until it has dissolved completely. Pour into a cup and stir in muscovado or brown sugar if you want it sweeter. If you want your tsokolate to be rich, thick, and creamy, use evaporated milk, but if you want to watch your calories, low fat milk will do. You will find all ingredients in most grocery stores.
Best enjoyed with warm pandesal or suman, this tsokolate is a certified comfort drink this rainy season.
Share with us your tsokolate ahh! experience.
[Photo: Adrian Blair]