Sikwate a la Marketman’s Mom


It’s the weekend after a particularly long week, so it seems like the perfect time to sit back, relax and enjoy my sick-wah-teh (sikwate or hot chocolate). Heehee. I have written about hot chocolate before, even did a post on the fresh and edible cacao fruit as well, as well as a post on the fabulous cup of hot chocolate we had at Escriba, in Barcelona last year. But I received nearly a kilo worth of utterly fresh tablea from my sister-in-law, who had recently visited Tagbilaran, so I have been overdosing on the stuff during the past week or so. But first, I did this previous post on batidors and chocolateras, just to get the paraphernalia nomenclature straight…



These tableas are the stuff of childhood memories. In the photos above, the tablea made from pure cacao are wrapped in dried banana leaves. We used to spend a week or two each summer in a small town in Bohol, where my mother’s family had their summer ancestral home. Her parents were rather well-known in the province, he having served in the provincial and national government, while she hailed from a large well-known clan with its members spread from Leyte to Cebu. My mother and her siblings lived a charmed life until the outbreak of World War II. But my grandparents’ resistance to Japanese occupation during the war and subsequent long months on the run in the forests of Bohol, constantly evading capture by the Japanese army, ended in a tragic and brutal execution which the Japanese did just days AFTER the liberation by MacArthur began. I never met my mother’s parents, but by all accounts I would have liked them immensely. Their execution was a major trauma for my mom and her siblings.


Accompanying my mother to Bohol in those days was something I fiercely dreaded, it was intensely rural, and boring for someone aged 8 or so. But being the youngest, I had no choice but to be dragged along, with the few highpoints of the journey being unlimited supplies of broas and hot chocolate. In my later years, I actually saw those trips as extremely poignant and perhaps difficult journeys for my mom, who was returning to the scene of such painful personal memories. One can understand why she couldn’t eat Japanese food for several decades after; but later embraced the food and culture of Japan as only someone with real grace would…her appreciation of Japanese ceramics, fabrics, paintings and handicrafts along with a fascination for Ikebana floral arrangements seemed a tremendous gesture, in retrospect. She knew beauty when she saw it.


Hot chocolate and my mom are inseparable memories. I can distinctly picture her at a stove, intently and vigorously churning the tablea and water, before adding copious amounts of sugar and in her day, evaporated milk to the brew. I wasn’t a huge fan of hot chocolate then, as I always thought it was grainy and a bit watery, but I did love dipping broas into the hot chocolate, and still do. Since it was recently my mom’s 11th death anniversary, and we had a bounty of authentic Boholano tablea, I decided to make several batches of hot chocolate in her memory…


First, a more watery version that somewhat approximated the ones I had as a kid. Take two cups of water and boil it in a chocolatera, add 6 small pure chocolate tableas or roughly 60 grams worth and mix this with a batidor. Twist the batidor vigorously to froth the chocolate. Add about 4-6 measured tablespoons (as opposed to heaping ones) of brown sugar to taste and continue to churn. Take this off the heat and add milk or cream to taste while still churning the mixture…serve hot. Preferably, with Boholano broas on the side.
Comments in the previous post on Batidora mention a version called Kinutil in Cebu; this mixture has added tuba (coconut liquor/wine) and a raw egg, which serves to thicken the brew and add the alcoholic punch. This combination probably harks back to the Spanish times as a similar treatment seems to be applied in Mexico. I made an alcohol free version of this by changing the proportions slightly… I added 6 tableas (60 grams) to 1.5 cups of boiling water, then milk or cream and 5 tablespoons of brown sugar. Once off the flame, I added a raw egg that had been lightly beaten and continued to churn the hot chocolate. Though this resulted in a thicker drink, in the small glass below, it was still much more watery than hot chocolates I had in Spain last year. I suspect the super thick ones are made with heavy cream, and have either an egg included or possibly, a touch of cornstarch even. I understand that the Bulacan versions can include ground nuts which would extend the cacao which is costly and serve to thicken the resulting drink… I suppose it is a matter of what you grew up with, but I like the pure cacao version better…Other classic pairings with this hot chocolate woulb be some puto, ripe mangoes or suman or budbud… Yum. I am sure mom is enjoying this post, wherever she may be…

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38 Responses

  1. Churros are my dunkers of choice and the combination lifts the floodgates of memories too just like the madeleines dipped in tisane of Proust though not as scruciatingly longwinded I hope.

    I wonder what the Tagbilaran chocolatiers use in the way of conching.

  2. What a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday – with tsokolate at kakanin (hot choc drink and Filipino rice snacks) by the garden lawn or apartment terrace :)

  3. Hot chocolate is good with broas indeed but I also like the fried suman sa ibos and hot choco combination.

    As for adding liquor in hot chocolate, I like adding Kahlua to my hot chocolate, something I’ve learn from a former co-worker.

  4. I’ve seen some of my relatives adding Tanduay rhum, or topping tsokolate with toasted pinipig (pounded glutinous rice). Quite good actually.

  5. When I was growing up tablea chocolate were always used for champorado and never for making tsokolate-ah, so this method for making chocolate drinks is entirely foreign to me. Thanks for posting this MM. I’m definitely gonna give this a try. Your mom sounds like a very beautiful person. =)

  6. what a beautiful post to wake up to on a beautiful sunday morning! …but it was your saucer that took my breath away.

  7. There is a restaurant in Barcelona serving hot chocolate but it is so thick and so yummy that anything that you put on top of the cup will float. I like that version. It is so amazingly good.

  8. millet, it amazes me what a fine eye will catch… the saucer and cups are part of a tea set that I inherited from mom… it comes with a good story too, but will keep that private for now… suffice it to say one would literally be “Breakfasting on Tiffany’s…” at any rate, a better photo of the set can be seen in this earlier post. zap, funnily, I just recently did a post on champorado made with tablea, a first for me… :) Jade, that combination does sound good! Connie, Mrs. MM ate exactly that with her cup of hot chocolate!

  9. i usually stir and stir and stir until the resulting chocolate’ is thick, then and a small pat of butter for a shiny finish – YUM-O!

  10. Have you heard of “duman”? This is a special kind of malagkit/rice which is grown in Pampanga. Sta. Rita, Pampanga is famous for this. It’s green in color and the soft variety is soaked into the hot chocolate drink. This was our special treat during the Christmas season as I think this is harvested during that season. I haven’t eaten duman for more than 10 years now. I substitute suman sa ibus instead (the one that’s wrapped in the brown/cream colored leaf?). Fry the suman till the outside is brown and crunchy (beware of the oil splatter, though) and then soak the whole thing in your hot, foamy chocolate…..heaven!!!!!

  11. I recently read an anthology of Filipino women’s short stories ranging from that of a translation of Andres Bonifacio’s wife to those who had experienced the Japanese invasion. Their stories were written in a quite genteel style but then one can really connect with their tragedies. So, I can only admire the way your mother embraced the Japanese culture in the long run.

    Yes, I am just learning the different nuances of what tsokolate (or sikwate)is. The beauty of country living is that we get our tableas straight from the maker, who we know makes sure all her utensils and kitchen area is clean. I like it also when the cream is made of coconut milk. A little oily though. Thank you MM for Sikwate 101!

  12. We usually have hot chocolate made with tablea at breakfast – but this is served with fried rice, scrambled eggs and longganisa and we would pour the watery choco over the rice. Very odd (and probably disgusting to most) I know, but we learned that from my father’s side of the family. They’re from Ilo-Ilo, Cebu.

  13. Ang sarap naman nito! It reminds me of churros!

    MM, I’ve been looking for pinaupong manok recipe. Do you know how to cook pinaupong manok? I dont even know what it tastes like, I never had pinaupong manok, I just want to try it. Thanks.

  14. MRJP, sorry, I haven’t tasted it either… tings, it isn’t so strange, I have heard of others who use the chocolate milk as a moistener of their rice…if you think about it, its kinda like champorado… bernadette, yes, freshly made tablea is just superb, and to know the maker is even better. Titanons, I think Karen over at Pilgrims Pots and Pans has superb posts on that rare and pricey delicacy duman… I think they even have a festival in their home town for this delicacy… isagarch, have never heard of the butter finishing trick, but it makes a lot of sense!

  15. MM, the butter finishing trick is something I learned in the US when I used to make Parisian-style hot chocolate. Don’t know if it is an authentic trick, but it sure worked for my mail-order Cafe Angelina hot chocolate! I’ve tried it with regular Hershey’s/Ghiradelli cocoa too, and the butter really kicks it up a notch or two… Angelina’s is still better though :D

    Btw, the butter is also a nice touch on champorado. YUM.

  16. most of the time we crave for hot tsokolate and something to dip in it when we are on tea breaks… we all end up with hot milo with bread/ muffins… we miss tsokolate with churros or torta or whatever. . . hehe

  17. My mom is here on a vacation and I made her hot chocolate yesterday while the rain was raging outside. This post makes me appreciate her more… it also makes me cry! Your mom loved you very much… she still does :)

  18. This entry just made me so nostalgic. I grew up in Cebu and always had sikwati. My great grandmother used to make their own. Unfortunately I never can find the best tablea in Manila. I have it mailed here to Manila.

  19. Just had hot chocolate at Max Brenner. I still like the Hot chocolate made from the tableas coming from cebu or Margaux salcedo’s nana mengs chocolate together with suman.Yummy….

  20. I have to admit that I’ve never had any good authentic chokolate made of tableas along with batidor/batirol before… I believe that this is my second time seeing tableas in photos in all my life. I know instant chocolate doesn’t count, hehehe…Until the day I can finally enjoy a good cup of authentic chokolate and a batidor to mix it with and some broas on the side to complete the experience, I guess I have to settle with these photos for now… thanks for sharing!

  21. MM—can you make the vendor’s name/phone # available where your sister-in-law bought the tableas? Thanks!

  22. Sikwate reminds you of your mother’s World War II memories. For my husband, it’s pancakes. He was 4 years old when his father, a USAFFE sergeant, was killed by a Japanese soldier on the run, just as the American army was driving into town to liberate Rizal province (but this is another story altogether). A few minutes earlier, my husband’s father cooked pancakes for breakfast_not the instant kind we know today, my husband remembers them to be fat, like puto. While the rest of the town was celebrating liberation, my husband and his mother was burying their dead–there was no time to call a priest, no time to gather loved ones, no time to even sound taps for the fallen soldier.
    For many years thereafter, my husband couldn’t eat pancakes, they made him cry. Today he loves pancakes, they give him a warm fuzzy feeling. They never fail to remind him of that day and the father he barely knew, who gave up his life so his family and country could live in peace.

  23. MM,I just came back from Bohol and yes I brought fresh tableas with me.I love sekwate and pan de sal any time of the day.

  24. No. Using chocolate (from tablea and not some instant powdered cocoa) to “moisten” rice is not strange at all. If it was, I would venture to say that using coffee for your rice would be far more strange. Same with tinola. I got the shock of my life when I learned that my classmates’ tinola were made from chicken. Back home, tinola (or tula/tola) has fish as the main ingredient and not chicken. We usually cook chicken with coconut milk and lots of malunggay. Today, funny na lang ang ganiyang incidents.

    Anyway, how I crave for all this chocolate. Miss ko na rin ang tablea ng auntie ko–absolutely pure. And her honest-to-goodness chocolate moron and my other aunt’s puto made with lots of coconut milk instead of just water. Isagarch, I think I am going to try your butter finish. Thanks for the idea.

    And MM, your kalamansi marmalade has proven itself time and again in my kitchen. Thanks to you at kung anu-ano nang nagawa ko using this magic marmalade and jelly. I even use it now in my power bread. All the more delicious plus the additional vitamin C pa. Salamat! Next on my list would be the kalamansi squares na. Balitaan na lang kita when it’s done.

  25. I’m not very fond of chocolate drink but I will surely try sikwate one of these days.

    Likewise, I don’t find it strange pouring chocolate to your rice. In my case, I use to pour coffee to cold rice for merienda.

    Just like connie and Mrs. MM, i love fried suman sa ibos.

  26. Add about 4-6 measured tablespoons (as opposed to heaping ones) to taste and continue to churn.

    MM, what should be added here? sugar?

  27. the broas looks so heavenly. match na match dun sa color ng sikwate. ang sarap naman niyan MM!

  28. Blaise, yes, the tableas look REAL, don’t they? Chunky, paborito ko talaga ang broas! brenda, what is pinaupong manok? Would be happy to pass the recipe to MRJP. brenda, thanks for catching the omission, yes 5-6 measured tablespoons of brown sugar… I have edited the post, thanks! Catalina, that is a wonderful story, I think there are thousands of poignant memories from the war(s)… brownedgnat, I think she buys them in the market from a suki, will ask her if there is a contact number the next time I see her…

  29. Hi MM,
    This is what I’ve been waiting for! Thanks sooooo much!!! It brings back memories of my childhood in Cebu. :) (bisaya gyud)

  30. Last night I tried Tsoko.Nut’s tsokolate ala batirol with gulaman and cream as toppings.. it was good, keeps good memories flowing..

    I even appreciate their explanation on the wall of how our “native” tsokolate started.. Tsokolate-eh was drunk by the affleunt families during the Spanish era, were the chocolate is very rich and thic, and tsokolate-ah was for the commoners wherein the latter’s version is watered down..

  31. How come your broas look so fine? Where do you buy them? They look yummier than the ones we buy in cans (forgot the brand but the ones available in Mazapan Sweets)

  32. CecileJ, for 40+ years, we have gotten our broas from Osang’s behind the Baclayon Church in Bohol. They are the best broas I have tasted in the Philippines. I have several posts on them in my archives. Light years better than anything that comes in a can. These are freshly baked and only last a week or two at most.

  33. hmmm…how can i have a taste of osang’s broas?

    really got curious with all your comments!

    are these broas available in metro manila supermarkets?

    is there a brand that comes close in terms of quality / taste?

  34. just a bit out of topic. is it just me or does anybody else find the first pic kinda dirty. lmao.

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