When I was ten, my parents made the decision that my Dad would spend a year in Viet Nam working for AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service), so we moved back to Minnesota for that year. When he returned home, we were transferred to Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, where we stayed until I was fourteen. We then moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky for a year, and then finally Dad took a job at Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee.
Those years in Tennessee are some of the most memorable of my life. Friendships were formed, I graduated high school there, went to college there, had my first job there, my first boyfriend, and my first apartment. Mom and Dad were finally meeting new people as well, some of whom have remained lifelong friends.
One couple in particular were Buddy and Reba, who became like second parents to us kids, and best friends to Mom and Dad. God rest their souls, we lost them both last year within a few months of each other.
Buddy was an OTR truck driver and Reba was a recent divorcée when they met and fell in love at the American Legion. They were married, and between them had 8 children. Although not a clone of the Brady Bunch, their family dynamic worked.
Reba came from an upper middle class family and never had to learn to cook, so the cooking skills she brought to the marriage were, um, limited, to say the least. But she jumped right in, and to her credit, she became a pretty decent cook in her own right. She made the absolute most awesome biscuits you ever ate...they literally melted in your mouth. One day we were over for brunch after church and Reba had the traditional biscuits and sausage gravy, but she had also made "Chocolate Gravy"!
I'm like, what the heck is chocolate gravy...I'd never heard of, let alone tasted a delicacy such as this! Turns out, it's a very Southern dish (usually served over biscuits) that I can only describe as a cross between chocolate pudding and chocolate syrup...either way it's heaven in your mouth!
Anyway, the other night, I was trying to figure out what to do with some leftover shortcake I'd made the night before for Strawberry Shortcake. I'm thinking, "what the heck can I make that's sweet to go over that darn shortcake?"
And then it hit me...Reba's Chocolate Gravy! Well, I didn't have her recipe, so I went in search of one in my vast array of cookbooks, to no avail. Then I turned to the internet and came up with several that I thought sounded close to Reba's. Well, I make the gravy, tried it, and I'm not so impressed. It needed something. So I added cinnamon and strong coffee and tried it again. Still not there. Then I spied the bunch of bananas on the counter and it hit me. Chocolate. Banana. Shortcake. Ding, ding, ding, ding...it was to DIE for! The real deal. Truly a most incredible dish worthy of the gods, people! So without further ado, I give you Chocolate Banana Shortcake!
Chocolate Banana Shortcake
For the shortcake:
Recipe adapted from here.
3 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. shortening
1-1/2 cups half and half
2 tsp. vanilla
Melted butter to brush shortcakes
Sanding sugar for dusting
Heat oven 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half and vanilla. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Cool and set aside.
For the Chocolate Gravy:
Recipe adapted from here.
Heat butter in a cast iron skillet over low heat. Mix in sugar, brown sugar, flour, cocoa and cinnamon. Slowly pour 1 cup of milk into the skillet and whisk well to remove lumps. Whisk in half and half and coffee, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, being careful not to scorch. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Set aside.
6 bananas, cut in half, then cut in half again lengthwise
1 - 8 oz. tub whipped topping, or 1 cup sweetened whipped cream.
Cut shortcakes in half and place on serving plate. Place 2 cut banana halves on each shortcake. Ladle 1/2 cup chocolate grave over bananas and top with dollop whipped topping or whipped cream. Serve immediately. Serves 12.