Tag Archives: buttermilk biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyI know what you’re thinking. “Chocolate…gravy? GROSS.”

But hear me out. I have hated almost every gravy I’ve ever encountered, if I was even willing to take a bite in the first place. I’m not generally opposed to sauces, but the…gloppiness…of the cream gravies of my Texan childhood pretty much ruined them for me, with one notable exception: Chocolate Gravy.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

If you’ve never heard of such a thing, imagine a thin, flour-thickened chocolate pudding that you spoon over Buttermilk Biscuits, preferably made by your old Texan grandma. You know, the one who lets you stay up late watching The Golden Girls and always has chocolate cake on the counter (and lets you slice it without supervision, so you’re really sugared-up when you go back to your parents’ house).Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

I had one of those grandmas. Her name was Dorothy, but I called her Nonnie, and she was the very best. She let my little sister and I eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch and frozen pizza for dinner on Friday nights (followed up by the aforementioned chocolate cake), but Sunday mornings were sacred.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

You see, my dad went to her house for breakfast on Sundays, so she’d pull out all the stops. Even when she was very old and had arthritic hands, she would make sausage patties, eggs fried in bacon grease, sliced tomatoes, and biscuits & gravy. They’d eat breakfast and she’d play with our dog, Lily, while my dad took one of his signature twenty-minute snoozes in the recliner. On the rare occasion that my sisters and I were allowed to skip church and join in on Sunday breakfast at Nonnie’s, she’d add Chocolate Gravy to the menu, just because she loved us.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

I’ve been thinking about Nonnie a lot lately. Maybe it’s because what would have been her 100th birthday is coming soon or because she was an amazing improvisational baker or because today marks eleven years living in NYC. Or maybe just because she was a badass lady. Whatever the reason, I’ve been craving Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy lately. And so, here we are.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyButtermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyButtermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

This is not Nonnie’s recipe—as far as I know, she never wrote anything down. Instead, it’s the product of a little trial and error and some taste memory from twenty years ago. I do know that the chocolate gravy I ate as a child was made with the Hershey’s cocoa that came in a can, but as I have never seen that in NYC, I recommend using whatever unsweetened cocoa you like. Dutch process cocoa will make for a deeper chocolate flavor, but natural unsweetened yields the lighter flavor I remember.Buttermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsButtermilk Biscuits

As for the biscuits, this recipe is a slight departure from my previous all-time best biscuit recipe. Both are delicious, but I am currently partial to this fluffier, slightly more tender version. Buttermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsThese buttermilk biscuits are made with a touch of cornstarch to mimic the tenderness of cake flour. I also added a smidge more flour and buttermilk, yielding a slightly softer dough. In addition, I’ve taken out the beat-with-a-rolling-pin step, and chosen to bake the biscuits close together on a parchment-lined baking sheet instead of packed into a casserole dish. Regardless of which biscuit recipe you choose though, you’re going to love them drizzled (or smothered) with Chocolate Gravy.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

This weekend, do like Nonnie. Make some Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy for someone you love.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits
makes about 12 biscuits

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4-1 cup buttermilk,* very cold
Chocolate Gravy, for serving (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 tablespoon pieces. Cut one piece into four batons, and cut the other into very thin pats. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon.

Turn dough (and any unincorporated flour bits) out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down—do not twist. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk.

Bake biscuits for 14-15 minutes, until they have risen and are starting to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve with Chocolate Gravy, if desired.

Biscuits are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Note:

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, use this alternative. Pour 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour regular milk up to the 1-cup mark. Let sit 5 minutes in the refrigerator. Stir mixture before proceeding with the recipe.

Chocolate Gravy
makes about 2 cups

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups milk (preferably whole)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, and salt into a 4-quart pot. Gradually whisk in milk. Place pot over medium heat and whisk continuously until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer to a gravy boat or other serving vessel. Serve over split Buttermilk Biscuits. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat before serving.

Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyButtermilk Biscuits

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Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsMy sister, Eliot, arrived at my apartment Wednesday morning, fresh off a flight from India. She was super jet-lagged (hey there, 11.5 hour time difference!), but stayed mostly-awake while I baked these Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits. Once I was done photographing them, I gave her one to try, and all she could say was “mmmm.” It could have been because all she’d eaten for the previous two weeks was Indian food or that all biscuits are wonderful or that she was half-asleep at the time…

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

…but probably not, because I was doing the exact same thing. These cheese biscuits, y’all. They’re my favorite soup side.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

They first came to be a couple of Oscar Nights ago when I made them to go with a batch of Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup. Those biscuits (and Leo’s win!) were thebest things to happen that night, and I’ve been toying with their formula ever since. The resulting biscuits are flaky and buttery with a warm, salty, spicy, slightly-funky flavor that is everything you could want on a cold winter’s night.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Oh, and they’re super easy to make. I mean, if you turn on the oven now, you can have a batch of warm biscuits in about 40 minutes. Just combine some flour, cornstarch, a touch of sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a bowl…

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

…and add some freshly grated parmesan. If you don’t want to shell out for Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is less expensive and works just as well.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Cut in some cold butter and fold in buttermilk until a dough forms. Pat it out and fold it a few times to build some layers.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Use a round biscuit cutter or a sharp chef’s knife to cut biscuits. Place them close together on a parchment-lined pan and brush a little more buttermilk on the tops.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Then bake ‘em until they’re golden on top, light and tender in the centers, and singing you their cheesy siren song.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Trust me, you won’t be able to resist.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits
makes 12-14 biscuits

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
3/4-1 cup buttermilk, very cold

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 tablespoon pieces. Cut one piece into four batons, and cut the other into very thin pats. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Whisk in grated parmesan. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon.

Turn dough (and any unincorporated flour bits) out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary. For more tips on folding, see here.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down—do not twist. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk.

Bake biscuits for 14-15 minutes, until they have risen and are starting to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits

 My grandmother (“Nonnie”) was a great woman. She had bright red hair. She was just as sweet as she could be, unless someone crossed her. And you didn’t cross her because she was scrappy–she kept a paddle on her kitchen wall. The woman had gumption, my absolute favorite quality in a human. She loved without ceasing. When she was very old and living in a nursing home, she would play Bingo for Almond Joys and then save all of them for my sisters and me. We would go visit her, and she would have a shoebox-full after a week!

Every Sunday morning, my mom, little sister, and I would go to church, while my dad went over to Nonnie’s house for breakfast. My sister and I were always very jealous. Nonnie may have let us have popcorn and Ovaltine for dinner (true story), but breakfast was sacred. There were eggs fried in bacon grease, Owens sausage patties, sliced tomatoes, and then, there were the biscuits. Nonnie made the best biscuits in the world, as far as my family were concerned. And if you showed up for breakfast and she had made chocolate gravy to go along with them, you knew you were special. She started making biscuits in her teens (if not earlier), and made them until she literally could not anymore. She never measured anything–she had made them so many times that she didn’t need to. It was all a pinch (pronounced “peench”) of this and a pinch of that. My mom tried to get her recipe, but as the pinch is not an accurate unit of measurement, it was impossible. When Nonnie passed in 2001, her biscuit recipe went with her. There were many biscuit-less years after she died. When I started baking a few years ago, I spent more than a year trying to replicate her recipe. That’s impossible, of course. No matter how good my biscuits are, I’m not a southern grandma. But all that effort paid off because I make a hell of a biscuit. Today would have been Nonnie’s 97th birthday, and since I can’t share her recipe with you, I’ll share mine.  
 Buttermilk Biscuits start with whisking together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. The sugar won’t make these sweet–it just balances out the saltiness. Next, take one stick of cold butter and slice it in half (two 4 tablespoon pieces). Take one half and cut it into four sticks. Cut the other half into thin pats. Cutting the butter into different shapes means that the butter in the biscuit dough won’t be in uniform pieces–this ensures flakiness. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of peas. Work quickly so the butter stays cold. Next, pour in 2/3 cup of cold buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until it is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. Does the dough look dry? Mine usually does at this point. Continue adding cold buttermilk by the tablespoon until the dough no longer looks dry. I usually end up using 3/4 cup of buttermilk total. Flour a surface and your fingertips. Don’t flour your palms–they radiate heat, while your fingertips stay cooler. Turn the dough onto the surface, and use your fingertips to pat it into a rectangle that is 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Fold it in half, and turn it one quarter turn. Pat it back into a 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold and turn it again. Repeat the folding and turning until you have done it four to six times–this is how we build layers! 

Now, flour a rolling pin. Use it to give the rectangle of dough three or four good thwacks (technical term). Flip the rectangle over, and thwack it again. Do this twice on each side. Why are we beating up our dough? We are knocking air into the layers. Have you ever heard of beaten biscuits? During the Depression, baking powder was rationed, but people still needed to make biscuits. Biscuit dough was “beaten” to encourage a good rise. Even though we have access to baking powder nowadays, beating the biscuit dough still helps to ensure that we have tall, flaky biscuits. 

  Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated) to cut the biscuits. Cut directly down. If you twist or saw, you’ll deflate all those layers that you just created. Place the biscuits close together in a buttered pie plate. Baking them all together encourages them to rise up, rather than out. Brush the tops with additional buttermilk, if you’d like. Bake the biscuits for 12-14 minutes at 400F, until they are golden brown and delicious-looking. Let them cool for five or ten minutes before serving with cold butter, jam, and/or honey.  

 That recipe is a bit long, but it really takes no time at all. There are a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult or time consuming–they just help ensure beautiful, tall, flaky biscuits. If you start making them now, you’ll have biscuits on your table in about thirty minutes!

Buttermilk Biscuits are very near and dear to my heart, just like the woman who introduced me to them. These may not be Nonnie’s biscuits, but I hope she would have enjoyed them. 

 Buttermilk Biscuits
makes 12-14 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk, very cold*

Preheat oven to 400F and grease a pie plate with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 Tbsp pieces. Cut one piece into four sticks, and cut the other into very thin pats. Place all pieces into the bowl with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender,* cut cold butter into the flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 2/3 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon, up to 3/4 cup total.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary.

Flour a rolling pin. Smack dough four or five times. Flip dough, and smack another four or five times. Flip and smack again until you have done this twice on each side.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk. Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, until they have risen and are light golden brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve with butter and jam, honey, or gravy.

Buttermilk Biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours. 

Notes:

1. If you don’t have buttermilk, you may stir 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar into 3/4 cup of cow’s milk (not skim).
2. If you don’t have a pastry blender, use two forks.