Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
Tips: This isn't fancy or chic, but it is good, solid comfort
food. All biscuits and gravy are a fine example of that, but here,
the biscuits are lightly sweetened, and the gravy is chocolate.
For a Valentine's Day treat, you can use a small heart-shaped cutter
for the biscuits (mine is 2-1/4 inches at the widest part of the
heart, and 2 inches from top to bottom); otherwise, use a small
cutter of any other shape you please. I've tried making these biscuits
with both unsalted butter and vegetable shortening, and, as much
as I hate to admit it, the shortening worked better, so that's what
I use. If you don't like cinnamon, omit it; substitute the grated
zest of 1 medium orange, adding it when you put in the shortening,
and leave the cinnamon out of the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on the
biscuits before they bake.
I make the chocolate gravy ahead of time, then chill it (it will
keep for a day or two in the fridge). That way, I don't have to
be concerned with having the gravy finished just as the biscuits
are done baking (the gravy must be served hot, but it can easily
be reheated as the biscuits bake). This gravy is quite thick (the
way I like it), very chocolate, and not too sweet. If you prefer,
you can add a small additional amount of hot milk when making or
reheating it, and you can increase the quantity of sugar, too.
A good Southerner will tell you that biscuits and gravy must be
served piping hot. I am not from the South, though, and while I
always serve this dessert piping hot, it's good at room temperature,
too (although the gravy thickens even more as it cools). Once assembled,
this does not keep beyond an initial cooling to room temperature,
and the biscuits should be made just before they're used.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (use up to 1/3 cup if you like it
- 3 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. solid vegetable shortening
- 1/3 cup milk
For Baking Biscuits:
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar >1/8 tsp. cinnamon >Small amount additional
Have ready near stovetop a heatproof small pitcher or liquid measure
of at least 1-1/2 cup capacity. Tear off a piece of plastic wrap
large enough to cover the pitcher, then pierce it in about 12 places
with a tootpick or the tip of a sharp knife. Set aside.
>Into 1 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum pot, sift sugar, cocoa
powder, flour, and salt. With small whisk, blend well. Add 1/4 cup
of the milk (reserve remainder); whisk briskly to form a smooth
paste (mixture will be thick). Have butter near stovetop.
>In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat (or use microwave
oven), heat remaining milk until very hot. Remove from heat. Gradually
whisk into cocoa mixture. Scrape sides and bottom of pot with rubber
spatula, then set pot over medium heat.
>Cook and stir until gravy comes to a boil, scraping pot bottom
and sides occasionally. You will probably see a layer of foam on
top--OK. When gravy boils, reduce heat so a low boil is maintained.
Boil and stir for 4 minutes; gravy will thicken somewhat. Remove
from heat. Immediately add butter. Wait for about 30 seconds, then
gently whisk butter into gravy. Without waiting, pour gravy into
heatproof pitcher; place perforated plastic wrap directly onto surface
of gravy (this prevents a skin from forming on top). Cool briefly,
then chill until needed, up to a day or two.
Yield: About 1-1/3 cups
For Biscuits and Assembly:
Adjust rack one-third down from top of oven; preheat oven to 450
degrees F. You'll need a baking sheet, but do not grease or line
In workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, combine
flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. (So you don't forget,
measure out the 2 tsp. granulated sugar and the 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
for baking now; blend the two thoroughly in small cup and set aside.)
Cover food processor; process at high speed about 15 seconds, until
well-blended. Add shortening; cover and process at high speed 15
seconds longer, until shortening is in very fine pieces. Turn into
medium bowl. (If you don't have a food processor, sift the dry ingredients
into a medium bowl, then cut in the shortening with a pastry blender
or two knives until it's in very fine pieces.) All at once, add
the 1/3 cup milk and mix just until a dough is formed.
Turn onto a lightly floured board; knead about 30 seconds (don't
overdo the kneading, but don't omit it, either). If dough is slightly
sticky, keep your hands floured. Pat or roll dough to a scant 1/2
inch thickness. Flour cutter, then cut dough into shapes; transfer
each cutout to baking sheet (for biscuits with softer sides, place
cutouts about 1 inch apart--if you like crustier sides, allow more
space between biscuits). Gather scraps and form into a ball, then
flatten to a scant 1/2 inch thickness and continue cutting until
dough is used up. Do not handle dough more than necessary.
With a pastry brush or fingertip, lightly brush the top of each
biscuit with a small amount of additional milk, then sprinkle with
a bit of the cinnamon sugar (try not to get either milk or sugar
on the baking sheet, but if only a little gets on, it's OK).
Bake biscuits in preheated oven for 6 to 9 minutes, turning sheet
back-to-front about halfway through baking time. Biscuits are done
when well-risen and bottoms are a golden brown (the tops of these
don't brown much).
While biscuits bake, reheat gravy. Remove from refrigerator and
scrape into a 1 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum pan. Heat over
very low heat, stirring very frequently, just until steaming hot.
Alternatively, heat in microwaveable container in the microwave
at 50% (medium) power for short intervals, stirring well after each,
until gravy is steaming hot. If you want to serve this dish family-style,
you'll need a dinner plate with a flat "well" in the center;
otherwise, use dessert or side plates with a flat center "well".
As soon as biscuits are done, remove from oven, then remove to
cooling rack. Quickly pour hot gravy into plate "well(s)",
dividing it evenly among plates if more than one plate is used.
Place hot biscuits on top of gravy (for individual servings, place
one or two hot biscuits atop each portion of gravy) and serve. If
you served this family-style, given everyone a biscuit or two and
some gravy with it.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
(c) Stephanie Zonis provides the above information
to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you
may not: distribute the text to others without the express written
permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information
on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or
re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information
for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer
for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this
server from your own documents.