Filipinos are really winning in the breakfast department. Tapsilog, tuyo, pandesal—these are just some of dishes we are lucky enough to wake up to. Another start-of-the-day staple is champorado, a chocolate rice porridge made with sticky rice (malagkit) and chocolate (usually tablea). It’s creamy, sweet, and filling, best eaten on a cold day.
There’s not a lot that goes into making champorado. The process looks similar to cooking rice, but with more liquid and the addition of a chocolate element. This recipe guides you through how to make a perfect version of traditional champorado. No fancy ingredients, no out-of-this-world techniques. Just a tried-and-tested method to make champorado that gives you the pure flavor of cocoa and the pure texture of malagkit in a thick, creamy soup. Everything else—added sweetness, flavorings—is all up to you.
The Champorado Rice
Malagkit is a non-negotiable ingredient in champorado. It’s what gives the porridge its texture; both because it’s the most tangible part in the dish and because its starch makes the liquid thicker. On the other hand, regular rice is too loose and isn’t porridge-y. So it won’t give you the right consistency.
You’ll usually find two kinds of malagkit in the market: regular and long-grain. Most households stock themselves with the regular malagkit since it’s more readily available. That will work fine in this recipe; you don’t have to go buy a special kind just for this. However, if you can find long-grain malagkit, you will get better results. Cooking champorado requires a lot of stirring. This agitation will likely break down some of your rice grains into smaller pieces, so if you’d like to end up with more noticeable chunks, you’d better use long-grain malagkit. (Though, really, the difference isn’t that huge.)
The Champorado Liquid
Traditionally, champorado is cooked in plain water. But we wanted to test cooking the dish using milk, as well, to see how it will affect how the rice cooks, the creaminess of the soup, and the overall texture of the dish. We chose milk as the alternative liquid option since it’s also usually added to champorado anyway (so why not add it while cooking already?). Plus, we were trying to produce a creamy champorado, and we believed this could be done with dairy.
We had three liquid tests: water, regular milk, and evaporated milk. Since milk doesn’t have enough water content, we mixed both milk tests with water in volume—half regular milk with half water and half evaporated milk with half water. This also helps in ticking off the affordability box, since it’ll come out too expensive to cook the champorado in full amounts milk.
In the end, there was no discernible difference in the texture of the three tests. This was because we used malagkit in everything; its starchiness made all liquid options almost equally creamy.
The malagkit cooked in plain water was done the fastest. This was because the liquid was more easily soaked by the rice. Water, being less thick than milk, also evaporates more quickly and boils faster, so the pot gets hotter faster. It was done in just 10 to 15 minutes.
Both the regular milk and evaporated milk yielded a creamier liquid as predicted. But cooking with milk was way more difficult. The liquid was temperamental, so we had to constantly adjust the temperature and scrape the bottom of the pot so the milk wouldn’t burn before the rice cooked.
The malagkit in regular milk cooked in 15 to 20 mins and had a neutral creaminess; while the malagkit in evaporated milk cooked in 20 to 25 minutes and had a strong evaporated milk flavor. Later in our tests, we found that the dairy-based liquid masked a lot of the chocolate flavor.
The Champorado Chocolate
Champorado is usually made using tablea. But for convenience, some people use cocoa powder as an alternative. More modern kitchens even use sweetened chocolate chunks or chips. We tested all three options—in all three liquid tests—to see which one gave us the best flavor and worked the best with the malagkit and liquid.
Tablea follows the classic champorado route and there’s a reason for it. It produced the most intense cocoa flavor and didn’t come with an aftertaste. We used a sweetened tablea, which gives it a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. You can achieve the same with unsweetened tablea; just add two tablespoons of sugar to counter it.
Cocoa powder is a cheap and convenient alternative to tablea—and we even recommend it as an alternative to some of our recipes that call for crushed tablea. However, in this case, we found that it had a mineral-y flavor that was hard to ignore, especially in the version where the malagkit was cooked in water.
We used sweetened chocolate for this test. It will be the same whether you use chips, chunks, or chopped bars. The result was too sweet, with a flavor more akin to Western-style chocolate rice pudding than traditional champorado.
Pepper’s Best Classic Champorado
Our test proved that the traditional way of cooking champorado remains unbeaten; that is cooking malagkit in plain water, then adding tablea for the chocolate flavor. Cooking the malagkit in plain water was the most efficient while still giving us the desired texture. The water-based soup also was a nice neutral canvass for the tablea to really come through. You can really taste the mix of sweet and bitter with the deep cocoa flavor.
To make our best classic champorado recipe, start by adding a cup of malagkit (preferably long-grain) in a pot with eight cups of water. Normally, you wouldn’t use this large of an amount of liquid. However, we need this extra water later to achieve the right consistency. Give the mixture a stir to prevent it from clumping.
Place the pot over high heat and wait for it to boil. Once it starts boiling, stir it again to break up any clumps and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, it will (and should) still look a little bit wet.
Once the sticky rice is tender, turn the heat all the way up to continue cooking. Stir the mixture vigorously to break up the grains and release the starches; this will thicken your champorado. Do this for about 10 minutes.
Lower the heat back to medium then add your tablea. Stir until it’s completely dissolved and evenly distributed. To make it easier, break up the tablea with your hands before adding them in.
Remove from the heat and serve your champorado immediately.
Flavoring Your Champorado
This recipe makes a basic classic champorado. So there’s zero added sweeteners or flavorings. This was done so that you can adjust it to taste after serving.
The usual champorado complements are dairy and sweeteners. You can add milk to make it creamier, white sugar to make it sweeter, or condensed milk to make it both creamier and sweeter.
You can also use other sugar-free sweeteners, although these may slightly alter the flavor of your champorado.
Bonus: A Non-Traditional Champorado
Our tests produced a sleeper hit: champorado cooked in evaporated milk and flavored with chocolate chips. It’s not traditional by all means, plus it’s more expensive. Still, we loved it.
It tasted more like rice pudding. So we’re not even sure we can call it champorado. It was creamy and sweet (which is why it didn’t win—it didn’t leave enough room for customization).
If you’d like to try it yourself, this version follows the same method in this recipe. Just swap the eight cups of water with four cups of evaporated milk and four cups of water, and the tablea with 250g of chocolate chips.