30 Oct2009


After a recent trip to Cebu, I realized there were three types of tableas in our pantry, so I decided to compare them… First and foremost, let me state that I love artisanally produced ingredients, and will patronize them as much as I can. There is just something so pure about something made by a person/persons, often with great skill, experience and soul… So regardless of my comments on this post, I strongly recommend that readers choose to buy local tableas for their hot chocolate, before they opt for the easy way out which is to buy canned cocoa or other pre-sweetened concoctions in their local groceries. This is about getting back to basics, experiencing cacao near its purest form, and we are lucky to have a rural tradition (albeit slowly disappearing) of having our own hot chocolate from scratch. I was very surprised by the noticeable differences in color, flavor and consistency among the three tableas…


To “normalize” the comparison, I carefully measured out exactly 30 grams (using a sensitive kitchen scale) of each type of tablea and put them in a mug. For the Binondo tablea, that was under 2 whole pieces, and for the Camiguin tablea, a little less than one paper bag individual serving. Next, I added one cup of whole milk, scalding hot, to each cup and used three different batidors/batirols/molinillos to mix and froth up the cup of hot chocolate. I did NOT add any sugar or any other ingredients at this stage so that only the chocolate tablea was the distinguishing factor between samples.


All of these samples of tablea were apparently sugar free, and I assumed made of pure cacao beans, roasted then smushed into a paste and formed into tableas. The first thing I noticed from the different tasting glasses was the color of the milk. If you have told me beforehand that the color alone would be dinstinctive, I don’t think I would have necessarily believed you. The La Resureccion tableas from Binondo yielded a very milk chocolate looking hot chocolate, it is on the left in the photo above and below. The argao tableas yielded the darkest milk, but it also looked murky and grainy. The Camiguin table shards yielded something in between…


Taste wise, I was partial to the smoothness and sophistication of the one on the left. But I can see why others would like the strong grittiness and rawness of the center cup. The cup on the right was somewhere in between, but tasted a bit less chocolately than the other two. Think of the cup on the left as a refined cup, the one in the middle more Batangas barako, and the one on the right a mix of the two. If I had to pick one, my preference would be the one on the left, but having said that, any of the three with good milk/cream or sugar would still make a nice cup of sikwate…


Boy, let me tell you, all that sipping of unsweetened hot chocolate had serious bowel movement implications! Better than dulcolax I would imagine! Hahaha. But at any rate, what was the perfect pairing for an outrageous early morning snack with unsweetened hot chocolate? How about several SUPERB polvorons and pastillas de leche that were sent to our home as a thank you for the jams and jellies we provided for the Roxas-Sanchez wedding? These were from the same batch served at the reception and they were delicious and beautifully wrapped. And as MF writes in the comments section of that previous wedding post, it seems they also used the jams/jellies in the modest evening reception at the Bahay na Puti. :)



  1. diday says:

    Yeheyy, manga season in our area. Sikwate, budbud, and manga — Destiny’s Child — the sikwate is the Beyonce.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 6:00 pm


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  3. j. says:

    Hmmm….. chocolate. Now two questions come into mind: have you ever had cacao fruit (the flesh before the bean is fermented then roasted)? and Have you tasted Noka chocolates (they are extremely yummy!)? Either way, that doesn’t detract from the fact that you made a REAL cup of hot cocoa…that in itself is a nice reward!

    Oct 30, 2009 | 6:16 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    J., yes fresh cacao pulp in this post, here. And no, I have not tasted Noka chocolates.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 6:21 pm

  5. ihid says:

    Can I ask further if which cup yielded most/least visible cocoa fat/butter?

    Oct 30, 2009 | 7:28 pm

  6. Rona Y says:

    Have you ever tried making ganache with tablea and then hot chocolate from that? I’m wondering if the cream would enhance or smother the quirky flavours of native chocolate.

    The best hot chocolate I’ve had made from native chocolate was the one at Chocolate de Batirol in Baguio. It was rich and nutty-tasting from the roasting. I still regret not buying a jar (it was sold as a paste). But generally, I’ve been disappointed with Filipino tsokolate. I guess I need to be searching out the small producers!

    BTW, Noka is well known as being a huge rip-off. Their marketing implies they are a bean-to-bar producer, but they only temper and repackage another company’s chocolate (most likely Chocolat Bonnat), and sell it at a much increased price (more than 4000% mark-up!). But they sure do have nice packaging! (The original website that did the expose–dallasfood.org seems to be down, but here’s a summary http://www.slashfood.com/2006/12/19/noka-chocolate-exposed/ )

    Oct 30, 2009 | 7:32 pm

  7. Connie C says:

    Some readers of this blog may think it is fawning, but call it what you will. And we are duly warned about certain posts….for people who worry about negative energy.

    MM, what you will do to share your experiences with us is certainly admirable/commendable to say the least: recipes, stove tops, cookware, markets, produce, etc. etc. etc. No wonder visitors get hooked to the blog once they visit. Now I have to pay attention to the tableas I happen to have in my larder and give them the same test so I know what to get next time I am in Pinas.

    Great chocolate energy today, MM. Try the low fat milk next time to avoid the “runs”, but then I am sure you don’t indulge in several sugar free cups of sikwate and polvoron every day.

    Pasintabi, MM for betty Q to check her email. thanks.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 7:35 pm

  8. Vanessa says:

    Bowel movement issues – hazards of the job! Thanks for fearlessly sampling the three variants for the education of your readers. I remember being a well-intentioned five-year-old and enthusiastically offering to make a tall glass of hot chocolate for our driver, using tablea, hot water, milk and sugar. No batirols, just a spoon to mash everything up. He did not and, I suspect, could not, show up to work for three days, the poor man.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 7:46 pm

  9. Connie C says:

    Oh BTW,off topic, but a suggestion.

    With the holidays coming up, you may want a holiday menu selection for the day from time to time based on your previous blogs as a special feature at the end of your daily post. Just an idea, he, he. The selections may even come from some of your readers, betty Q perhaps?

    Sometimes we just can’t think, even fiesta fare becomes a daily affair with the ease and availability of food especially here in the US. Even salmon is not so special anymore, if you can cook and eat it as an everyday fare, but certain recipes and pairings give it a new twist. I have not seen any feature like that in any food blog I visit. I am not trying to put you to work more than you have to, but……… you can always say naaaah! or perhaps a “brilliant” idea? a time to resurrect old recipes?

    Oct 30, 2009 | 7:54 pm

  10. j. says:

    As an aside, Thanks Rona… hmmm that’ll teach me to buy them (can’t complain much though, I received this particular box as a gift).
    And I just finished reading the prior post (Thanks MM!)

    Oct 30, 2009 | 8:22 pm

  11. Divina says:

    My brother and I were just talking about which is the best tablea and this is my answer. MR. MM, where do I buy the wooden tools to make the hot chocolate drink?

    Oct 30, 2009 | 8:43 pm

  12. el_jefe says:

    oh!!!! i really envy you MM …you’ll get a vtaste of those superb polvoron served at korina and mars wedding!!! id love to sample those sweets too!!! yummy!!! MM do you have any idea where to get those mouth watering sweets? hehe!!!
    anway…in batangas…my grandmother used to prepare chocolate with ground cashew or sometimes peanuts…it is done the traditional way…with the use of batidor and chocolatera….though i like it prepared with a couple of eggs and milk making it thicker and creamier and a little bit foamy ..comparable to capuccino… chocolate e chocolate a! it is best paired with clay horno baked ensaimada from panaderia almeda which is now closed so sad…oh and with suman sa natala too!!! yummy!!!!

    Oct 30, 2009 | 8:52 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    el jefe, I think these particular sweets were ordered from Bulacan and other suppliers in Central Luzon. There are several outlets for pastillas makers these days… for the next two months on weekends there are pastillas and other baked goods at the basement of Rockwell… There are several native delicacies shops in major malls as well. Try Blue Kitchen for polvorons. Folks on Luzon sometimes include nuts in their hot hot chocolate… I don’t think folks from the Visayas typically do that… Divina, try Pueuo? booths in various Christmas bazaars for the batidors or provincial markets in places like Bohol. Also Nana Meng’s shops in malls also carry the batidors. Connie C., I have tons of holiday posts in the archives… Vanessa, I had no idea tablea was so potent! Rona, I have never tried making ganache with tablea… ihid, the butter/fat wasn’t obvious to an untrained eye like mine, so I can’t answer that question intelligently.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 9:07 pm

  14. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    MM, here’s a suggestion. Next time you do a taste test with tablea, just use hot water. That way you’ll get pure, unadulterated flavor profile from each tablea.

    The smoother tablea (Binondo) may mean that they are grinding closer to 25 microns, the point the palate cannot feel any particle (fine-quality chocolate is ground between 15-20 microns).

    The difference in color and flavor profile has to do with the vagaries of terroir; the same variety of cacao (i.e. forastero beans constitute the majority of the world’s cacao harvest) can produce different profiles when grown in different locations.

    I strongly agree with your recommendation to buy local. It not only encourages the farmer to continue farming the land and the tablea manufacturer to continue his craft. It also reduces the carbon footprint generated.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 9:54 pm

  15. psychomom says:

    hehehe… MM…. you had Montezuma’s revenge by partaking of too much chocolate. but i would have done the same thing as you did. thanks for that post. i still have tableas from binondo in the fridge that i got the last time i was home. where can i get batidors?

    Oct 30, 2009 | 10:48 pm

  16. Mom-Friday says:

    ooh…i’m craving now, gotta have one tomorrow morning! Thanks for the comparisons, i also like mine to be smooth and creamy than nutty.
    MM, have you tried the ‘Death by Tablea’ chocolate cake from Chocolat? Yum! I also bought their tablea from Davao, P95@ pack.
    TO RONA – you mentioned ganache, i believe this cake i mentioned is covered in tablea chocolate ganache, which is really good! so I did a post on them here:

    Oct 30, 2009 | 11:16 pm

  17. k. ramos says:

    MM, where did you get your ultra-sensitive kitchen scale? Thanks :D

    Oct 30, 2009 | 11:19 pm

  18. zena says:

    I don’t have a batidor so I use a wire whisk instead in a stainless steel pan. I keep the tsokolate over low heat while i whisk away then add the sugar, whisk again, then the (skim) milk when the sugar has dissolved. I’ve never had bowel issues form tablea even when I’ve had 2 cups. =) I am partial to the grittiness of the tablea and with heated ensaimada on a cool night, perfect.

    Oct 30, 2009 | 11:45 pm

  19. rhea says:

    Hi MM. Would you recommend using condensed milk with the Tablea? That’s how Manang makes our tsokolate during Christmas and New Year. She boils water, adds the tablea tablets and once dissolved, adds the condensed milk. I’ve never tried cooking this without water though, just like you did above. Maybe that’s something we need to try soon, as soon as tableas from Bohol arrive here in Manila.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 2:16 am

  20. ECC says:

    Psychomom, you may be able to find a molinillo at Mexican supermarkets (like Fiesta) in your area. They are also available online such as at gourmetsleuth.com. Hope that helps.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 2:20 am

  21. Anna Banana says:

    Yum, Tablea! It’s raining at the moment in Manila, and I’m think I’ll go make myself a tsokolate from the tableas we have from Maasin, Leyte for breakfast :-). I want to try the Ressureccion Tablea~ The one we have now is akin to the one in the middle, strong and a bit gritty.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 4:16 am

  22. eej says:

    My lola had a modest cacao farm in Davao years ago and she made tableas from scratch; literally from tree to the table. I remember her vigorous whisking of the tsokolate in a well worn metal pot with a wooden implement infront of a hot open fire in the kitchen. Considering its potency, my sister and I were limited to one cup of the dark, thick and very rich chocolate brew or else you’ll get “drunk.” That’s how strong it was! I should have paid more attention to the process of how it was made then, but at a young age tablea making just didn’t make it on my list. It’s only now that a certain smell, taste and even blog posts invoke such fond memories. Could it be nostalgia or simply age?

    Oct 31, 2009 | 6:58 am

  23. MichelleQ says:

    MM — where can I get good local tablea in Cebu? I’ll be there next month and would love to bring some back to California. The ones at the market here are not the same!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 7:42 am

  24. wahini says:

    The Argao tablea maker gave me directions on how to make the best cup of sikwate using his tablea. He told me to boil the water, add muscovado sugar (if you want), let the water come back to a boil, add the tablea and batiroll away until it starts to foam up. Let it come back to a boil quickly and immediately turn it off.

    This is exactly how we do it at the restaurant, using less water to make it “espiso” and muscovado to keep the richness. To go with our churros we also reduce the sikwate down, keeping it on a very low flame for about an hour to make it thick and perfect for dipping. I’ve often snuck a ladle or two to pour over vanilla ice cream. So much better than that Hershey’s stuff.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 8:28 am

  25. Marketman says:

    wahini, I will definitely try that version. I love it when the manufacturer gives the cooking instructions…

    Oct 31, 2009 | 8:51 am

  26. Susie says:

    Hi MM…in the house, we use 1 bag of the Camiguin for every cup of milk, heated to just below boiling point. Otherwise it lacks oomph. Then go nuts with the batidor. For breakfast this morning, we had budbud kabog and bibingka from Mandaue with sikwate.

    Just found out that my cook is using my hand-carried organic Thai sticky rice for biko (she makes it every year for kalag-kalag…all my help get one to bring home). Sigh. I did say we needed to inventory the pantry and use stuff up!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 10:19 am

  27. kellie says:

    hello mm, my sister introduced me to your website and i must say it is very informative :) i am enjoying a cup of Hersheys hot chocolate (sana tablea) at the moment and a callos pie my sister bought from Tina in Manila.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 10:44 am

  28. gracebayan says:

    Looks really good. We usually have this with sticky rice and make it into instant champorado!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 10:55 am

  29. ihid says:

    2 decades ago when we produce our own tablea, we “batil” the sikwate until fat is visible. Finely grounded tablea produces this easily. I’m currently in search for the better local tablea (flavor and texture) here in Northern Mindanao. Brands available in supermarkets are Camiguin’s Maestrado (smoother) and Cotabato’s Kablon (stronger flavor, I suspect its roasted longer). Here’s a tip: If you want your sikwate with liquor power, roast it “medium rare”.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 11:20 am

  30. Dynamic says:

    Ahh, pang bate pala ng tsokolate un, akala ko meat pounder eh,i use it as meat pounder to tenderise the meat. we have that thing the middle batidor.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 11:32 am

  31. junb says:

    I asked my sis to buy for me two type of tuguegarao (ybanag) and la Resureccion Tablea. I’ll be doing my own tablea experiment with an intention of serving it for the christmas dinner with friends and relatives.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 2:08 pm

  32. el_jefe says:

    MM my grandfathers 3 ”matandang dalaga” sisters owns an exquisitely designed chocolatera and a batirol with silver designs …however my mom’s wicked sister in law being the ultimate kiss ass as she is… asked the three oldmaids to hand her down their antiques the chocolatera the old pendulum clock, the kam-aw, the tapayans and jewelry like sinampalok earings and tamborine and their old house in batangas. All of the antiques now vanished..without any traces…although my mom was told by a neighbor that my aunt had all the jewelry smelted…and she transferred the old house to quezon city piece by piece….the clock …the chocolatera….all gone and no where to find…hay ambagal kasi ng nanay ko….sigh…hwhehehhe!!! my wicked aunt…….hehe!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 6:45 pm

  33. jam says:

    my siblings and i used to assist our grandmother in making tablea when we were children. i had learned the whole process, from harvesting, removing the pulp and drying, sorting out the dried cacao beans into different size categories so they would roast evenly, roasting and removing the covering while still hot, grinding and forming into big round tablets on banana leaves. she would admonish us not to eat the roasted beans, lest we get “drunk.” that’s how potent cacao is. when i had my own family, i make our own tablea, made from beans bought at the market. we have sikwate at least twice a week for breakfast. not only does it pair well with the old fashioned kind of pandesal, with its hard crust and salty, soft interior, it also goes very well with eggs, fish paksiw and rice.

    Oct 31, 2009 | 9:26 pm

  34. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    I remember many moons ago, when I was still in College in Cagayan de Oro, dormmates and I went to the public market to have sikwate with tuba and a raw egg for breakfast. I forget what its called, but I do remember spending the rest of the day in the bathroom….hahahaha

    Oct 31, 2009 | 9:26 pm

  35. millet says:

    i love hot chocolate but have always been wary about its……er, digestive properties. i had a very nice merienda last week in a training center in cebu of a demitasse of very good native sikwate with a delicious, chewy suman and very sweet mango. sarap!

    this is a timely post for this long weekend, MM, since i persuaded artisan chocolatier to sell me frozen brioche dough last week so i could bake it fresh tomorrow. will serve it with his white cheese, your guava jelly, and excellent davao tablea. bliss!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 10:39 pm

  36. Tricia says:

    I can’t believe a pastillas/polvoron wrapper can turn out so chic! Sooooo love the brown & beige colors!!!!!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 11:13 pm

  37. Mari says:

    When we were in the Philippines, I always remember the batidor and the pitcher…so when they passed away and I started having my own Christmas eve dinner with my husband, I definitely wanted to re-create what I grew up with. I had to ask my aunt to buy me a batidor and have it brought with her when she visited. I own one now…used it last year but need to really get used to it. This year, it will be a part of the holidays again…MM you always bring back memories of good times by showing us your traditions and blog about it. It really is comforting to read your web site and always look forward to it.

    Nov 1, 2009 | 10:09 am

  38. chichay says:

    haha… as i have suspected in MF’s article today…you provided those fruit jams…so which one is it? i suspect the mangosteen as you are fond of it.

    Nov 1, 2009 | 12:47 pm

  39. Fine Life Folk says:

    Wow, an advocate of locally grown tableas. I love the tablea that my lola, titas and cousins used to produce in Infanta, Quezon with their trusty stone slab of a machine that they manually stir with an attachment of some sort. My mom would put them in a blender every Christmas and New Year morning and enjoy our own cups of cocoa. My lola’s gone and titas are now abroad. My cousins have since traded that hobby for Farmville…

    Nov 1, 2009 | 1:49 pm

  40. rhea says:

    Fine Life Folk, lol. Farmville. Speaking of which, I just finished harvesting my crops a minute ago and have just planted a new crop. lol.

    Nov 1, 2009 | 2:30 pm

  41. Rona Y says:

    j–if I had a box of noka chocolates given as a gift, I’d eat them, too! I almost bought some once (they have a store in Tokyo), but I had already spent too much so I didn’t. After I read the expose, I was very happy I hadn’t parted with my money!

    Mom-Friday–thanks for the info about the cake! I wish I had knows about it last March–we were staying in the San Juan area, so it wouldn’t have been too much of a trek to try it!

    Does anyone know where to get “artisinal” native chocolate in Bacolod? I’ll only have a couple of days in Manila, so I don’t think we’ll have time to search for any there (last spring I picked some up from the Echo Store and from Tiendesitas). With luck I may get to the Legaspi Market (arriving too late on Saturday to get to Salcedo) if there are some vendors there, though.

    Nov 1, 2009 | 5:32 pm

  42. Rona Y says:

    I meant “artisanal”! I really do know how to spell! Honestly!

    Nov 1, 2009 | 6:06 pm

  43. cumin says:

    Artisan Chocolatier, are you referring to kinutil? I’ve heard of various versions of kinutil in Mindanao, including one with durian.

    Nov 2, 2009 | 8:42 am

  44. Peach says:

    Thanks for the post! Time to look for that stairwell in Ongpin where the La Resurreccion tableas are sold! Hope the vendor is still there :(

    Nov 2, 2009 | 11:09 pm

  45. Quillene says:


    This post has me salivating over hot chocolate!!! AAArrrggghhh!!! Nevermind the crazy metro weather!!!!

    *Goin’ Loco over Coco!!!* Hehehe

    Nov 3, 2009 | 9:58 am

  46. Charlie says:

    The pastillas and polvoron look really good! Any idea where they are form?

    Nov 3, 2009 | 9:15 pm

  47. bina says:

    tableya+pandan leaves+mascuvado sugar = manny pacquiao of sikwate(s).

    Nov 5, 2009 | 10:42 pm

  48. peanutbeanma says:

    to find la resurrecion – just walk towards engbee tin at ongpin st – start at the corner of Q.paredes and ongpin. – it’s by the church and where the purple firetrucks park – you wont miss the stairwell. it’s by a store called tasty dumplings i think – the logo of the dumpling place looks like yellow cab pizza’s signage. so as you walk from the corner of Q.parades to engbee – you see (on yourleft the church) and on your right – construction site; the infamous stairway to chocolate heaven; tasty dumplings; chinese embroidered chinelas store; then engbee.
    while there the other week – there was this homeless guy brushing his falsies right there on the sidewalk – by the store that sells the embroidered chinese chinelas. hahaha so trust me – you can’t miss it. =)

    Nov 6, 2009 | 4:06 am

  49. shalum says:

    i have always loved the camiguin tablea, but with this post, I am truly intrigued by the binondo variety. thanks for the insight! by the way, those polvorons look absolutely yummy.

    Nov 7, 2009 | 1:35 am

  50. des obed says:

    here in cag.de oro, i still find baterol in old supermarkets at P49 as of the other day. maybe its in your old supermarket in town, too.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:59 pm

  51. des obed says:

    Artisan Chocolatier,
    i have an unforgetable experience with chocodrink. fresh harvest backyard native cocoa beans washed and sundried in 3days only. roasted, shelled and immediately crushed in a blender with 1.5 l water. boiled at once. it had white foams and pinkish brown bottom. and the taste was unforgettably unusually delicious. the gritty beans was also delicious.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 3:12 pm

  52. Jojo Vicencio says:

    Our niece went to Binondo to shop and I had her visit the La ressureccion for the tablea. Guess what? Eng BeeTin owns the place now.

    Dec 4, 2009 | 7:32 pm

  53. christy ojeda says:

    Good afternoon MM,

    I would like to make some jams for home consumption and I was wondering if I could ask you the favor of giving me a telephone number/name where I can purchase Certo Pectin here in Manila.

    I have tried a few fruit recipes but unfortunately they turned out a bit runny. Not a good consistency for jam. Woyld appreciate it very much if you help. Thank you so much.

    Apr 5, 2010 | 1:56 pm

  54. Pablo Balberona says:

    This is for you Mam MichelleQ, from the United States.

    Most probably you can get some of this pure Tableya in my home town BARILI, Cebu.



    Jul 12, 2010 | 5:10 pm

  55. Corrie says:

    i love reading the posts here. i may just ask, where in divisioria can i buy pure cocao/tablea? i love pure chocolates coz its healthy.

    Nov 14, 2010 | 9:23 pm

  56. Marketman says:

    Corrie, I don’t know where you can buy tablea in Divisoria, but try La Resurreccion in Binondo, nearby for some pretty good tablea.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 6:47 am

  57. mihael says:

    how will you know if have buy a pure cocoa powder

    Jul 27, 2011 | 12:12 am


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