This Is The Difference Between Tablea and Chocolate

Tablea is different from high-quality chocolate, but it's good to know how to use it.

IMAGE At Maculangan

Our local chocolate has received global and international recognition in recent years. We know of at least three amazing local chocolate makers and producers who have garnered acclaim abroad. 

It should be no wonder. The Philippines is located in the area where cacao trees are naturally grown. Ironically, this is also relatively the same area which is considered the "Coffee Belt". This band near the equator ensures that the climate is conducive to growing these trees and plants. 

However, despite the relatively newcomer status the Philippines and its chocolate has garnered abroad, we have been eating, drinking, and consuming chocolate far longer than the rest of the world may think. 

You may have tasted chocolate in its more basic form as tablea. Tsokolate tablea, or chocolate tablets, is how most of us know our local chocolate. These tablets are usually already mixed with sugar (traditionally a raw sugar like muscovado) and used for making hot chocolate for cold mornings during Simbang Gabi or for champorado. 

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One would never think to eat a tablea as is. That's where the award-winning chocolatiers come in. They recognized the value of the local chocolate and used the fact that we have been growing cacao for centuries to produce the single-origin, high-quality chocolate.

It's the refining process of making chocolate that differentiates tablea from these high-quality chocolate we enjoy eating. 

Despite these differences, it's easy to use tablea for chocolate in recipes. With a small difference in usage, you can enjoy the rustic flavor that you can enjoy when eating a dish made with tablea.

You can definitely use high-quality chocolate for practically any application when tablea is required. Since tablea is the more rustically made chocolate, these tablets are best used in recipes that require it to be cooked, melted, and stirred into a batter. Use it to make any of these delicious desserts: 

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1 Make a sauce. 

Let's start easy and instead of jumping right into the more complicated recipes, make a simple chocolate sauce made from tablea. This easy recipe will introduce you to the cooking process needed to make tablea rich and delicious. 

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

2 Bake a batch of brownies. 

You really can't go wrong with brownies. Whether you like it fudgy, cakey, or a little bit of both, you can use tablea in place of chocolate bars to make this decadent and very Filipino brownie recipe. 

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3 Fill tart shells. 

Tarts are just pastry shells filled with a decadent filling. This filling can be as luscious as a berry filling of your choice (blueberry, cherry, strawberry, and raspberry are just a few ideas) or as rich and decadent as a chocolate one made with tablea.  

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Photo by Lilen Uy

4 Whip it up into a fancy dessert torte. 

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Egg whites are a fantastic ingredient to keep in your freezer after making leche flan. All those egg whites have a use! Thaw out a batch and use it to make this layered meringue cake that's made even more delicious when sandwiched with tablea-flavored layers. 

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Photo by At Maculangan

5 Make a decadent layer cake or cupcakes. 

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Yes! You can make an incredibly decadent chocolate layer cake using tablea. The trick to achieving the decadence for this cake is the use of tablea which gives this cake it's nuttiness, earthiness, and, of course, chocolate flavor. Even the muscovado glaze of these tablea cupcakes are a great complement to its rustic chocolate flavor. 

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6 Use it in kakanin.  

Even if you're unsure how to use tablea in recipes, you should at least know how to use it in your favorite kakanin recipes. Use it in a champorado recipe together with red rice or in a biko recipe to make a kakanin that's different from the usual.

We should give tablea some love because it is after all still a chocolate ingredient. It's the affordable and rustic chocolate version we grew up eating and drinking, and it's delicious, too. 

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