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Southern Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy is an Arkansas favorite and a special breakfast treat for all ages! Tender, flaky southern buttermilk biscuits are smothered in a rich homemade chocolate sauce for a wonderfully unique start to the day that is truly Southern!
There is nothing quite like good homemade buttermilk biscuits, made from scratch by hand. Unless it's a one that has then been topped with a generous dousing of what southerners in Arkansas refer to as "chocolate gravy".
To be totally honest, I had never even heard of such a thing before starting my American Eats series and researching the foods that Arkansas is known for.
I mean, I have made plenty of Southern buttermilk biscuits over the years, but always just topped them with butter and honey or jam!
And while I was aware of the fondness for southern biscuits and gravy in general, that always meant a white sausage gravy. The idea of chocolate gravy had never entered my mind!
But apparently southern biscuits and chocolate gravy is hugely popular in Arkansas (as well as other areas of the South). So of course I had to at least try it.
I might lose some people with this description, but I feel like chocolate gravy is somewhere between hot chocolate and homemade chocolate pudding, in terms of flavor, even though it looks like it might taste more like hot fudge of chocolate sauce.
And in terms of texture, weeeellllllll, it's called gravy for a reason. Because it has that silky mouthfeel of a gravy rather than being runny like a sauce or sticky like hot fudge. Still with me? I hope so.
I made this for my girls and they literally licked their plates clean. I'm not joking or exaggerating. We're talking spotless dishes because they wanted every last drop of chocolate gravy. It was both hilarious and worrisome.
And while you might look at this and think it sounds awfully rich for breakfast, I don't think it's all that different in principle from a chocolate croissant, chocolate chip muffin, or a donut.
But I definitely recommend serving it with some fresh fruit for dipping into the chocolate sauce as well (so good!), and maybe some bacon for protein (when you go big, might as well go all the way, right?).
But since you can't have chocolate gravy without something to pour it over (or can you?), I'm sharing the best biscuit recipe today. You can eat these for breakfast or dessert, and they are also great for strawberry shortcakes with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.
How to Make Chocolate Gravy
- Gather up all your gravy ingredients: all purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, butter, vanilla extract and milk. There's not much to any gravy and chocolate gravy is no exception. You are also going to want a whisk to break up any clumps of flour.
- Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and salt together in a large skillet or saucepan. I find skillets easier to work with when making gravy, but that's just my preference.
- Pour in the milk and whisk to combine.
- Cook over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla, stirring until the butter is completely melted into the gravy.
- Serve over fresh southern biscuits.
How to Make Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits from Scratch
If you have ever wondered how to make biscuits at home, don't be intimidated or overwhelmed. Homemade biscuits are really super simple to make with ingredients that are already in your pantry.
Even if you don't have buttermilk, I'm including an easy work-around that is almost just as good.
But there are definitely a few secrets to fluffy biscuits and these tips and tricks that will help you achieve your dreams of tall, fluffy, flaky southern biscuits every time:
- Make sure your butter is cold. It really does make a difference! You can even cube the butter and stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes before using it in the biscuits to keep it good and cold.
- Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or food processor . This helps the butter stay cold and distributes the fat evenly into the dry ingredients, which is necessary for light, tender biscuits. You are going for pea-sized crumbs.
- Don't overwork the dough when adding the buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the liquid and stir just enough to start to pull everything together. The dough will be shaggy but you're going to knead the dough together a bit more anyway after you turn it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, so it's okay if it looks a little rough at first.
- Fold the dough over itself by thirds, two to three times, envelope-style. This technique creates incredibly tall biscuits with layer upon flaky layer of buttery goodness.
- When cutting out the biscuits, don't twist the cutter. Twisting the cutter seals off the edges of the biscuits and makes it so they don't rise as tall and separate into layers. Also, use a cutter with sharp edges. Push straight down, then pull up.
- Bake the biscuits at a high temperature in a completely preheated oven. The cold butter meeting the intense heat will cause it to melt quickly, creating steam and helping to lift the biscuits, creating the delicious, flaky layers that are the hallmark of a good buttermilk biscuit.
- Brush the tops of the hot biscuits with melted butter. It makes the extra golden and rich and wonderful.
What can I use as a substitute for buttermilk?
If you don’t have buttermilk in the refrigerator, you can substitute regular milk mixed with lemon juice or white vinegar and it will work just as well. Just add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill the rest of the way with milk. Stir together, then let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe as directed.
Southern Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups milk
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter cubed and cold, plus 3 tablespoons, melted, for brushing
- 1 cup buttermilk cold
Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
- Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until crumbs about the size of peas form. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, then stir with a spatula or fork just until the dough starts to come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 or 6 times. Pat into a rectangle then fold the left third over, then the right side over into an envelope shape. Pat down, turn the dough a quarter turn, and repeat the folding process once more before patting the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle.
- Cut out biscuits using a circle biscuit cutter, pressing straight down without twisting the cutter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the tops are golden.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and brush with the melted butter, if desired.
- In a large skillet or sauce pan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and salt until there are no lumps.
- Pour the milk into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined, then cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the chocolate gravy from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted and combined with the sauce. Serve immediately over buttermilk biscuits.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Montana • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin