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Pepper’s Best Classic Champorado Recipe: Breakfast of Champs

Talia Cortez (@taliacor)

Meya Cortez (@meyarrr),
Jerome Jocson (@emowredge)

Dan Aragon (@danaragonowns)

Jica Simpas (@jicasimpas)

Annika Hernandez (@anneequa_)

Filipinos are really winning in the breakfast department. Tapsilog, tuyopandesal—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.

Malagkit

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.

Champorado Liquid

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.

Water

Malagkit and Water
Pouring Water into Malagkit
Cooking Malagkit and Water
Malagkit and Water Thickened
Malagkit and Water Champorado

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.

Milk

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.

Malagkit and Regular Milk
Pouring Regular Milk in Malagkit
Cooking Malagkit in Regular Milk
Malagkit and Regular Milk Thick
Malagkit and Regular Milk Champorado

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.

Malagkit and Evap
Pouring Evap into Malagkit
Cooking Malagkit and Evap
Malagkit and Evap Thickened
Malagkit and Evap Champorado

All Champorado Liquids
(Top to bottom) Champorado cooked in water, regular milk, and evaporated milk.

The Champorado Chocolate

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.

Champorado with All Chocolates
We tested all the chocolate options with all the liquid options.

Tablea

Tablea

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

Cocoa Powder

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.

Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chips

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.

All Champorado Tests

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.

Champorado Winner
The winner: malagkit, water, and tablea.

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.

Water and Rice Process

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.

Stir Vigorously

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.

Add Tablea and Stir
Stir Champorado

Remove from the heat and serve your champorado immediately.

Pepper's Best Classic Champorado

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.

Dairy and Sugar Choices

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.

Champorado with Condensed

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.

Evap and Chocolate Chips Champorado

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.

In a large pot, add malagkit and evaporated milk mixed with water.

Cook, following the same method as the recipe below.

Add your chocolate chips. You can also use sweetened chocolate chunks or chopped bars.

Stir until the chocolate is melted and distributed.

Classic Champorado Recipe

Difficulty

Easy

Serving Size

6-8 people

Active Time

1 hr

Total Time

1 hr

Instructions for Classic Champorado

  1. In a large pot, add the rice and water and stir to prevent clumping.
  2. Place over high heat then wait for water to boil.
  3. Once boiling, stir again to break up and clumps of rice, then turn heat down to a simmer.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until rice is tender (mixture will still appear wet), about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Once the rice is tender, turn the heat all the away to high and cook the rice, stirring vigorously to break up the grains and release the starches, until the champorado has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Lower heat back down to medium and add the tablea.
  7. Stir tablea in until completely dissolved and distributed.
  8. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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