Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Miss K makes Tablea (for Filipino Hot Chocolate)


During Miss K's Philippines Cacao history project we learnt about Tablea tsokalate. This is a traditional Filipino chocolate drink made by dissolving tablets made from roasted cacao beans in hot water or milk.

In the USA, chocolate manufacturers process the imported Cacao beans so we usually we only come across the byproducts of the cacao bean. Cocoa powder we use in baking and cocoa butter is in the bars of chocolate we love. Tablea is made by grounding down roasted whole beans in their entirety. Traditionally it is made by hand and produces what remains is a rich thick oily paste. The concept is similar to grinding down peanuts to make peanut butter. The product is shaped into tablets or balls and dried.

It occurred to me that if we could buy cacao beans we could try to make tablea. I wasn’t too sure our food processor would work like a grinder but it’s not the strangest thing I have tried to make in a food processor*. If it didn’t work,  it would still be a teachable moment. I could still demonstrate how hard it must be to make it by hand (if even a food processor can’t do it!).

In the US, fermented cacao beans can be purchased as nibs. The nibs are beans which have already been roasted, peeled and crushed in to smaller pieces.  I fully expected to need to have multiple attempts at this but it worked on our first try.

Here's what we did to make our own version of Tablea:
½ cup of nibs went into the food processor. We added 3 tablespoons of sugar. I hoped it would act as an abrasive and help the grinding process.

After 15 pulses the nibs had begun to break down but it was still very gritty. We let it run for another minute and noticed a layer of cocoa butter forming as the processor was warming.
Here is one of the pieces of cocoa butter we scraped out to try –it was very strong but yummy.

I scaped the edges and bottom of the bowl and let it run for a bit more until it was all sticking together and very few grainy pieces were left. 

Miss K molded the cocoa ‘dough’ into tablet and they dried hard in an hour.

They looked and tasted good but we still wanted to see if they could make tablea tskolate.

We tried it in two kinds of milk –almond for me and regular for everyone else.
The tablet dissolved (with a lot of whisking) into the milk. We added vanilla and sugar. It was really good! I can only imagine how good the really thing must be!

Apparently Cacoa nibs are full of antioxidants too! They are also totally plant based/vegan. Milk is added when they manufacture chocolate candy to make it creamier. So there we have it -a successful project and a new way for me to make my own vegan 'chocolate'!

*the strangest thing I made in a food processor was paper pulp for a High school science project. Sorry Mum for chopping up newspaper in your kitchen appliances! 

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