On Frothing (Hot Chocolate)
Hell hath no fury like a woman awoken by the sudden blaring of remixed party-club songs coming from her inconsiderate upstairs neighbour at three in the morning.
It’s bad enough that a month ago, this same upstairs neighbour decided to have a guy over. They subsequently began a concert of their own, past midnight on a Tuesday, attempting acappella versions of inane pop songs at the top of their lungs like rejects from a talent show audition on crack. They did this three nights in a row. On the third night, I stomped upstairs and pounded on their door for a good thirty seconds. No one opened it, but the caterwauling stopped. Now, this.
We’d already complained to the landlord, but it’s either he has the hearing of a rock or he actually enjoys these nightly torments. I was going to storm upstairs again, but had no energy to get into a catfight at the break of dawn. And since all hope of going back to sleep was lost in a black, seething cloud, I had to find something to lift my mood, for the sake of everyone else I was going to face in the morning. It’s a good thing that earlier in the evening, my roommate had managed to find a roll of tablea in our stash of odds and ends – chocolate tablets that make this thick, excellent hot chocolate.
All it takes to make this concoction is a few minutes on the stove, a large mug and some energetic whisking. It took this and a bit of reggae before all was right in my world again (I owe UB40 a lot). But as a precaution, I’ve lettered a sign that I intend to post on my neighbour’s door.
Here’s the recipe for this kind of hot chocolate, with a bit of deviation from the traditional method of making it. Tablea are hard chocolate tablets from the Philippines, similar to Mexican chocolate discs. The age-old way of making hot chocolate from tablea is to use a long, wooden beater called a batidor or batirol to make the drink foam. In the absence of one (I don’t even own matching dinnerware, much less a batidor), a wire whisk or hand blender does the job.
The result is a thick, somewhat gritty but really delicious drink. Some people add grated/shaved milk chocolate, cream, ground peanuts or peanut butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, even rum or tequila (took a lot of self-control to resist the temptation – I had to go to work in a few hours).
Tablea Hot Chocolate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 2-3 tablea tablets
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup milk
- brown sugar, to taste
- Bring the water to a boil. Add the tablea discs in and dissolve, stirring constantly.
- Boil mixture for 5 minutes, then add milk and brown sugar.
- Remove from heat. Transfer to a pitcher or high-walled container.
- Whisk the hot chocolate vigorously until frothy.
- Pour into a large mug, add other ingredients as desired and serve!