THE SOUTH LOVES GRAVY. Red eye gravy, tomato gravy, sawmill gravy, sausage gravy, brown gravy, giblet gravy—we’re tempted to smother and cover everything we can find with a generous ladleful. In the rolling mountains of the Appalachians and Ozarks, folks are tethered to a particular cocoa-kissed gravy that is devilishly decadent and downright delicious.
Like many of the region’s best eats, the story behind chocolate gravy is hazy. Some theorize it resulted from a trade network between Spanish Louisiana and the Tennessee Valley, believing Southerners took the concept of Spanish breakfast chocolate and transformed it into a more familiar food: gravy, always poured over fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits. Whether that’s how it went, or it was the invention of a daring home cook with a hankering for fudge, no one will ever know.
Gravy, in any form, has always been a tasty sauce made from seemingly nothing. A little leftover bacon grease or pan drippings, some flour, milk, maybe a pat of butter, and voilà—gravy. It’s quick and easy and made from ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen, and chocolate gravy is no different. Throw some cocoa powder, sugar, and a dash of vanilla extract into the mix, and chocolate gravy is born It’s creamier and more substantial than any jarred fudge sauce you’d find on the ice cream aisle at the grocery, yet it’s thinner and more pourable than chocolate pudding.
Those who regularly make chocolate gravy are staunch believers in their preferred cooking method, some beginning with bacon grease and others starting with dry ingredients and relying on butter. However it’s made, chocolate gravy is best eaten over steaming buttermilk biscuits split in half or crumbled. In places like Arkansas and Tennessee, you can find this fudgy favorite on breakfast restaurant menus, but making it at home is plenty easy, too.