Chocolate for Breakfast?

  Last week, with the anticipation of fall weather arriving, Kenneth said, “You know what would be good for breakfast sometime?”

            Always one to welcome a menu idea, I answered, “No, what?”

            “Some biscuits and chocolate gravy!” He eagerly suggested.

            I know.  You are probably saying to yourself, “Chocolate gravy?  I’ve never heard of that.”  Trust me; my family maintained a variety of gravy recipes:  sausage gravy, cream gravy, tomato gravy, but I had never heard of chocolate gravy until I married into the Wells family.  As it turns out, the recipe came from Ken’s maternal grandmother, Maw Bowery. 

Family entered through the back door without knocking at Maw and Paw Bowery’s home on Thomas Street.  We could smell the aroma of Southern cooking wafting through the screen door when we approached their back porch.  After we opened the door and stepped inside Maw’s kitchen, we saw her standing at the stove or the sink, depending on if we arrived before or after the meal.  I remember her cornmeal-battered fried okra; it was always cooked in a black iron skillet, well-done and crispy.  Another specialty of Maw’s was her coconut cream pie, and it always rendered a sweet blessing for our taste buds.

I was never fortunate to eat breakfast at her house, but Ken has vivid memories of mornings with her.  As a young widow, Louise Bowery Wells, my mother-in-law, would take Kenneth to Maw and Paw Bowery’s house early every morning, so she could make her trek into Dallas where she worked. Even though it was early, Maw Bowery, already wearing her apron, was busy in her kitchen.  Kenneth remembers the gas stove and how intrigued he was by the gas flame dancing under and around the black iron skillet.  Maw would stir and stir and stir the delicacy she was creating in that iron skillet, good ole chocolate gravy.  He recalled the gravy would be steaming hot, and Maw would take a spoonful of butter, dab it on top of the gravy, and it would melt in a little puddle. At that point, Maw opened the oven door, and the aroma of the golden, flaky homemade biscuits filled the kitchen. Maw said, “Come on in,” and everyone anxiously made their way to the table. 

Today, using our wedding china, I plated Ken’s chocolate gravy atop two flaky Babe’s biscuits. But that’s not the way Maw would have done it.  I was informed, he filled his bowl with gravy and sopped his biscuits into the gravy. So, I came close to recreating a sweet memory of Maw and her provisions for my sweet husband. One can only guess how many skillets of chocolate gravy and pans of biscuits she prepared for her family.  But we never have to guess about the love that went into those preparations.  You could see that love in her hands, in her eyes, and in her sweet smile. 

Maw never measured ingredients, and she didn’t have a written recipe for the chocolate gravy, but Kenneth said the skillet-full I made today came pretty close. Try this ole Southern classic. You will discover you really can have chocolate for breakfast.


Chocolate Gravy

Mix together in a skillet:

¼ cup of cocoa

3 T. flour

¾ cup sugar

When there are no lumps, add:

2 cups of milk

Cook over a medium flame until gravy is smooth and thick. 

Remove from the stove, and add

1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 Tablespoon butter.

(or in my husband’s case, add a dollop of butter on the top of the serving.) 

Spoon over biscuits or sop your biscuit in your bowl of gravy. 😊 Enjoy!