The Chocolate Gravy Myth…And How I Think It Started!
Grandma Olfiel lived in a small three room house with brown pebble siding. It sat under a huge oak tree on a winding dirt road known as Front Street.
Sitting in and about my great grandma’s kitchen were beige colored pots and pans made of enamel-ware. Each piece had a green trim on the rim.
I remember the wash basin of that same enamel-ware that sat on the small back porch with the squeaky screen door. I remember because she used to tell me to wash my hands in that basin before entering the small house.
She was a tiny woman who rarely left her little house with the gnarly tree roots snaking right up to the back door. She was content to listen to the radio or read her Bible while the clock on the buffet ticked loudly in the silence.
Great-Grandma liked to cook and specifically, she liked to make home made biscuits and chocolate gravy.
This was my first introduction to Chocolate Gravy made in the beige enamel-ware saucepan with the green rim on a kerosene stove.
My dear readers….some people have a difficult time saying these two words together, but try it please.
Chocolate and now…say, gravy!
See???? You can do it.
Now say Chocolate Gravy as if it is all one word. I do not know what it is about those two words together, but when you say them …. you will get one of two different reactions.
If you were raised in Arkansas or some parts of the deeper south…the words chocolate gravy will bring on memories of cool, crisp mornings and jumping out of bed to a special breakfast of chocolate gravy oozing slowly down the sides of home made biscuits….and your mouth will be salivating.
IF, on the other hand…..you have never heard about chocolate gravy, let alone tasted it…you will most likely turn your nose up in disgust at such a combination.
I would like to dispel the idea that it is not a good combination or concept.
The first myth is that chocolate gravy is NOT, I repeat NOT a gravy.
The first thought that most likely entered your mind was a rich cream gravy over mashed potatoes or a sausage type gravy served over home made biscuits.
Or perhaps your thoughts of gravy are a caramel colored beef gravy served with pot roast, carrots and potatoes.
Yes, and that would be most people’s thoughts.
However, Chocolate Gravy is not a gravy at all.
The only thing similar is a hot fudge sauce served over ice cream, although chocolate gravy is NOT a hot fudge concoction, but a hot fudge sauce is closer to chocolate gravy than the other gravies we just mentioned.
Chocolate gravy is a sweet sauce. It is that simple. And served over hot biscuits….it is just delicious!
Sweet and biscuits? You might ask.
Think of this, a strawberry shortcake is made a lot like a biscuit…with a sweetened berry syrup and an even sweeter whipped topping added to it.
Believe me when I tell you that I have actually used canned biscuits for the “shortcake” for a dessert of strawberry shortcake and it is delicious.
So if you can think of chocolate gravy as a chocolate sauce…perhaps we will proceed to examine this “gravy” a bit more.
Many years ago, any roux-thickened sauce prepared in a skillet was called…”gravy”, and it didn’t matter if it was sweet or savory…it was ALL called gravy.!
The ingredients consisted of butter, flour and usually milk, broth or water.
OK? Are you still with me?
And of course we all know how to make a cup of hot cocoa…ok, some use a mix, but the original way was to mix sugar and cocoa powder, add a little milk and bingo! Hot chocolate.
And if you wanted it sweeter, you added marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream.
Now, let me ask you this.
Have you ever dunked your toast into your hot chocolate? Or perhaps a donut dipped in your hot cocoa?
Ok, now…I think you see where this is going.
Chocolate gravy is thicker than a fudge sauce and thinner than chocolate pudding, although the taste is very similar.
Lets admit it. It is sweet tasting.
No one knows for sure where or how chocolate gravy originated…although it is thought to be in the Tennessee mountains!
Think Dolly-Parton-hill-billy-type country, where a mama wanted to make something a bit different for her little ones’ breakfast…and since sweets were few and far between… she looked on her pantry shelf, saw the sugar and cocoa powder and knew to combine it with a country farm staple of milk and butter and chocolate gravy/sauce was born. Home made biscuits were a staple at breakfast…and so along with the fresh hot biscuits, a small bowl of chocolate sauce was placed alongside. What a treat!
Which reminds me of red eye gravy.
A resourceful cook frying Country Ham for breakfast decided to use the Ham drippings for a gravy of sorts, and picked up the closest liquid, a pot of coffee. added a little brown sugar and a cup of black coffee…. and red eye gravy was born. Ham, biscuits and a small cup of red eye gravy…toss in a few grits and you have a yummy breakfast!
Most Southerners love to use their biscuits to “sop” up syrups, molasses and gravies….and so do most people, I know I certainly do.
So chocolate gravy is no different. I look at it as a way to turn an ordinary biscuit into something special….and it could be used as a dessert and not just a breakfast meal.
There are several rules of thoughts as to how to eat this treat.
Some like to crumble their biscuits in a bowl and add the chocolate sauce/gravy over it, much like my grandfather ate his toast and milk.
Yet others like to split (and butter their toasted biscuit) and add a couple spoons of sauce/gravy to their plate.
Or perhaps they just want to dip or sop their biscuit in the chocolate.
So, my dear readers…do you have better thoughts of chocolate gravy?
It is true that the thought of adding cocoa powder to a cream gravy, simply sounds like a bad combination. But that is NOT what chocolate gravy is.
However, if you make put a little cocoa powder and sugar in a skillet…add a little bit of flour for thickener and stir to combine, then you add a little bit of milk and stir until the desired thickness, you will have a delicious chocolate gravy. Plop a little bit of butter on the top to melt before serving if desired.
Hmmmmm…I believe those ingredients are also the beginning for a recipe called home made fudge too. YUM!!!
The printable recipe is below.
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- biscuits, for serving
- Add the cocoa, sugar, flour, and salt into a large skillet, preferably cast-iron.
- Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking until smooth.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon, until the gravy/sauce thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 8 minutes. (The gravy/sauce will thicken around the edge first, so keep it stirred up from the bottom and sides.)
- Remove the skillet from the heat and drop in the butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
- Serve the warm gravy/sauce with hot biscuits.
- Makes about 2 cups gravy/sauce
- Like most chocolate, the gravy/sauce thickens as it sits and cools. Thin it with a little more milk if needed.