All you need to know about Filipino's chocolate, the "tablea".
What is Tablea?
"Tablea" in the Philippines typically refers to a local delicacy made from roasted cacao beans that are ground into tablets or disks. These cacao tablets are used to make traditional Filipino hot chocolate known as "tsokolate" or "sikwate."
The process involves dissolving the tablea in hot water or milk, often sweetened with sugar or condensed milk, to create a rich and aromatic chocolate beverage.
Tablea is a popular ingredient in Filipino cuisine, especially in regions where cacao is grown. It is often used in various recipes, including desserts and savory dishes.
The Philippines is known for producing high-quality cacao beans, and tablea is one of the ways these beans are enjoyed locally.
History of Tablea
The history of tablea in the Philippines is closely intertwined with the country's colonial past and its rich agricultural heritage. Here's an overview of the history of tablea chocolate in the Philippines:
Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines in the 16th century, cacao was already being cultivated and used by indigenous Filipino communities. Cacao was grown in various regions of the archipelago, including areas that are now known as Mindanao, Cebu, and Davao. The indigenous people, particularly the Ati and Manobo tribes, used cacao for making traditional chocolate beverages.
|Aerial view of Puentespina Farm in Malagos, Davao City
Spanish Colonial Influence
When the Spanish colonizers established their presence in the Philippines, they introduced new crops and agricultural practices. Cacao was one of these introduced crops, and it quickly gained popularity among the Spanish colonists. The Spanish adapted the indigenous practice of making chocolate from cacao, but they brought their own techniques and preferences, such as sweetening the beverage with sugar.
Evolution of Tablea
The term "tablea" itself is derived from the Spanish word "tabla," which means "tablet" or "board." The Spanish introduced the practice of molding cacao paste into tablet or disk shapes, which became known as "tablea" in the Philippines. This was a convenient way to package and store cacao for later use.
Filipino Adoption and Adaptation
Over time, tablea chocolate became ingrained in Filipino culture and cuisine. Filipinos developed their own methods of roasting, grinding, and molding cacao, incorporating local variations and traditions. Tablea was used not only for making hot chocolate but also for preparing a variety of Filipino dishes and desserts, such as champorado (chocolate rice porridge) and various kakanin (rice cakes).
In modern times, tablea remains an essential part of Filipino culinary heritage. It is still produced using traditional methods in some regions of the Philippines, particularly in cacao-growing areas. Additionally, the growing interest in artisanal and high-quality chocolate products has led to a resurgence of tablea production and its recognition on the global stage as a premium chocolate product.
Today, tablea continues to be celebrated in the Philippines for its rich and robust cacao flavor. It represents a connection to the country's indigenous and colonial past and is a testament to the enduring cultural significance of cacao and chocolate in Filipino society.
How is Tablea Made?
Tablea, a traditional Filipino chocolate product, is made through a relatively simple but meticulous process. Here's an overview of how tablea is typically made in the Philippines:
Cacao Beans: The primary ingredient is cacao beans, which can be sourced locally in the Philippines or from other cacao-producing regions.
Steps in Making Tablea
Harvesting and Fermentation: Cacao pods are harvested when they are ripe. The beans inside the pods are then extracted and fermented for a few days. Fermentation is a crucial step as it helps develop the beans' flavor.
STEP 1: Drying
After fermentation, the cacao beans are spread out in the sun to dry. This process can take several days until the moisture content is reduced to an acceptable level.
STEP 2: Roasting
The dried cacao beans are roasted. Roasting enhances the beans' flavor and aroma while removing any residual moisture. The exact roasting time and temperature can vary, and different regions may have their roasting methods.
STEP 3: Winnowing
After roasting, the outer shell of the cacao beans becomes brittle and can be separated from the inner nibs. This process is called winnowing, and it involves breaking the beans and using air currents to remove the husks, leaving behind the nibs.
STEP 4: Grinding
The cacao nibs are ground into a paste or liquor. This can be done using traditional stone grinders or modern machinery. The resulting paste is very thick and rich in cacao solids and cocoa butter.
STEP 5: Molding into Tablea
The cacao paste is then molded into tablet or disk shapes, which are the tablea. These tablets are usually relatively small and thick, often resembling hockey pucks.
STEP 6: Cooling and Solidification
The molded tablea are allowed to cool and solidify. This process can take some time, and the tablea should become firm and hard.
STEP 7: Packaging
Once the tablea has fully cooled and solidified, it is packaged for distribution and sale. Tablea is often wrapped in paper or stored in airtight containers to preserve its quality.
Tablea chocolate is versatile and can be used to make traditional Filipino hot chocolate (tsokolate or sikwate) or used as an ingredient in various Filipino desserts and savory dishes.
The quality of tablea can vary depending on the source of cacao beans and the methods used in its production, but it is generally prized for its rich and robust cacao flavor.
If you like to make a hot chocolate drink with Tablea, here's a Traditional Sikwate with Tablea you should follow.
ALSO: Tsokolate de Batirol - A Traditional Filipino Hot Chocolate (Where to Find in the Philippines)
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Where to Buy Tablea?
You can buy tsokolate tablea in the Philippines from various sources, both online and offline. Here are some common places to find tsokolate tablea:
- Local Markets and Specialty Stores: Many local markets and specialty stores in the Philippines carry tsokolate tablea. These stores often source their products from nearby cacao-producing regions.
- Supermarkets: Larger supermarkets in the Philippines, especially those in cacao-growing regions, may also stock tsokolate tablea. Look in the chocolate or baking section.
- Online Marketplaces: Numerous online marketplaces and e-commerce websites offer a wide variety of tsokolate tablea. Websites like Lazada, Shopee, and even Amazon may have options for purchasing tablea and having it delivered to your location.
- Cacao Farms and Specialty Cacao Shops: Some cacao farms and specialty cacao shops have their own websites or online stores where they sell tablea and other cacao-related products. This is a great way to support local producers and get high-quality tablea.
- Local Producers and Artisanal Shops: If you're in an area known for cacao production, you may find local producers or artisanal shops that make and sell tablea. These products often have unique flavors and characteristics.
- Local Cooperatives: In some regions of the Philippines, cacao farmers belong to cooperatives that sell their products collectively. You can often find their products through the cooperative's website or by contacting them directly.
- Traditional Markets and Street Vendors: If you're in a region where tsokolate tablea is traditionally made, you might find it being sold in traditional markets or by street vendors. This is an excellent way to experience the local culture and flavors.
|Cacao products store in Davao City
When purchasing tsokolate tablea, consider the quality and origin of the product. High-quality tablea is made from well-fermented and properly roasted cacao beans, which contribute to its rich flavor. Additionally, some producers offer organic or single-origin tablea, which can have unique and distinctive characteristics.
Always check the packaging for information on the product's origin, ingredients, and any certifications it may have. Support local cacao farmers and artisans whenever possible to promote sustainable and ethical cacao production in the Philippines.