I sat down to type out a post on sikwate, tsokolate, hot chocolate made from tablea (chocolate tablets), but realized I should first do a post on batidors, batirols, molinillos, molinets and chocolateras, tsokolateras or chocolate pots. So you think you have the terms right? So did I, but read onâ€¦ An earlier post of mine titled â€œHot Chocolate from Tableaâ€ resulted in several comments, but one commenter confidently pointed out that most of the readers were mistaken in referring to the wooden mixing implement as a batidor or batirol, and instead should refer to the implement as a molinillo (or molinet in English, according to Martha Stewart). He asserted that the Batidor was the vessel, also using the terms chocolatera, batilol and batirol to describe the same vessel that the hot drink was cooked in. I remember thinking at the time that I needed to do some research on this, but it slipped my mind until now. I thank Migs, the commenter, for heightening awarneness of this issue and forcing me to investigate the matter a little more, and share with all of you what I found outâ€¦
My parents always referred to the wooden implement as a batidor, as do thousands of Cebuanos and Boholanos today and several of the vendors at the market that sell variations of this implement. I think many readers call it a batidor as well. I have three versions of the â€œbatidorâ€ in the photo up top. So yes, it is indeed referred to as a batidor locally or provincially, rightly or wrongly. Now, as to Migs suggestion that calling this thing a batidor is just wrong (which I was very much willing to accept, btw), what I think is a better conclusion is that there are indeed several acceptable and appropriate names for the same implement. At its most basic, in the Spanish language, batidor means a whisk or an implement to mix things withâ€¦ I think it is fair to say that in the old days, say 100-200 years ago, those with some Spanish language capability simply referred to the batidor (wooden or otherwise) as the item used to mix up the chocolate, water and milk. But what of the molinillo? It too, is an extremely accurate name for the implement many of us call a batidor, perhaps the most original, or is it? Gourmetsleuth.com describes a molinillo as a Mexican chocolate whisk or stirrer and their photo points to something like the first â€œbatidorâ€ I have in the photo up top. Apparently invented by the Spaniards in Mexico around the 1700â€™s, the photos of this implement show what I refer to as a batidor. But I think that it is safe to say that the Pinoy batidor and earlier Mexican molinillo, were in fact based on an even earlier implement(s) to mix food from Europe or even back around to Asia (think French whisks for liquids and batters, Japanese whisks for tea, etc.)â€¦
So my conclusion at this point? Batidor or batirol in some parts of the Philippines refers to the wooden mixing implement used for frothing and mixing up hot chocolate; it is in fact the same or similar implement to a Mexican molinillo or molinet used for the same purpose, which was apparently invented by some Spanish colonizers in Mexico around the 1600-1700’sâ€¦ But no, I do not think it is correct to call the actual chocolate pot or vessel for the liquid a batidor, as suggested by some. The pot itself is a chocolatera, tsokolatera or chocolate pot, and the ones common here are made of cast aluminum or some other metal such as iron, copper, etc. You can buy these pots in varying sizes in Bohol, though the one in the photo here was purchased from a Nana Mengâ€™s outlet at Glorietta a year or more ago. These pots are very reasonably priced, but sometimes have a tendency to spring leaks, which is a tad annoying. I also worry where the base aluminum was sourced from to manufacture the potâ€¦ but that is another thread altogether.
I think this type of chocolatera DIFFERS from say the fancier European chocolate pots in silver or porcelain with ornate shapes and set-ups. Those ones are more for show (you donâ€™t put them directly on the fire) and they sometimes have molinets for a last minute frothing before pouring a cup of hot chocolate. They are meant to be used for serving the hot chocolate, often in fine company. The reason for the odd location of the pouring spout apparently has to do with the way the oils and or sediment chokes up the spoutâ€¦ I have wonderful memories of my mom vigorously twisting the batidor between her two palms when she cooked up a pot of sikwate. At any rate, these are the batidor/chocolatera basics as I understand them at the moment, any additional comments you might have to increase out understanding would be greatly appreciatedâ€¦
Oh, and P.S., reading through several sources from websites to reference books and my Scharffenberger tome on chocolate, it seems that the main purpose for inventing the molinillo in the 17th or 18th century was to make the process of â€œfrothingâ€ the chocolate more efficient. Prior to the utensil, Mexicans frothed the chocolate from one cup to another, incorporating air bubbles in the drink as it was poured from one cup into another and back again several times moreâ€¦ There is evidence, according the the Scharffenberger book, that Mexicans frothed their hot chocolate as far back as the 8th century! If you look closely at the wooden batidor/molinillo nearest you in the photos, above, you might be able to make out a moving wooden ring as part of the utensil, this is to encourage the air bubbles to multiply as the batidor is twisted between oneâ€™s palms vigorouslyâ€¦ (the final photo in this post is taken from “The Essence of Chocolate” by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg, page 21, it is a FINE book, acquire it if you have the opportunity to do so).