Filipinos look forward to Noche Buena, the night-before-Christmas dinner feast when families get together, take pictures (for Facebook, haha) and eat, eat and eat again. Little kids run back and forth to their moms pleading, "Now? Can we open our gifts now?!" while the adults arrange toasts and eat some more. It's pretty much like thanksgiving dinner; the only difference is that Noche Buena is a dinner after dinner that's held usually close to midnight or after the 9 p.m. Christmas mass.
When our Kulinarya group decided that this month's theme is to share a Noche Buena recipe, a plethora of traditional recipes came parading in my mind. Ham? Well, my father-in-law usually prepares that, and I haven't even made my own homemade recipe yet. Chicken barbeque? I've shared my recipe for chicken barbeque already. The same goes for Sotanghon. I wanted to share something very special to me, like my late father's stuffed chicken but then I remembered that's what I shared on last year's Kulinarya post... then I thought of sharing with you a holiday drink associated with Christmas which is tsokolate (rich and thick hot chocolate).
Tsokolate eh (cho-koh- lah-teh - eh) or tsokolate-ah (cho-koh-lah-teh-ah) sound like tongue twisters but they are actually two types of a hot chocolate drink in the Philippines. The former is thicker and richer in texture, while the latter is watered down. It's usually served in a cupita like the ones shown below.
This hot chocolate drink is made of cacao balls, which are readily available in local markets in the Philippines. Imagine my delight when I found a jar filled with cacao balls from my hometown in my brother in law's pantry in Orlando. Benedict also had different sets of cupitas and batidor (wooden stirrer) to boot. It brought me back to my hot chocolate sipping days with these tiny cups! But until now I don't know why these cups are so small . You bet, a cupita is not enough for me haha.
To get an authentic texture, we need a batidor, which is used to make foam and froth.
For this holiday drink, we need 3 cups of milk. Then add cacao balls (normally 5-6 balls depending on whether you want to make tsokolate-eh or tsokolate-ah). add sugar to taste. Use the batidor by twirling it between your hands like so...
Since it's Christmas (who would be thinking of calories and diet at this time of the year, right?) I will be serving my rich chocolate drink not in cupitas but in my Christmas cups... and to add a holiday twist, add whipped cream and cinnamon. Stir and indulge!
Maligayang Pasko (Merry Christmas!)