Above Photo by: Charity Burggraaf
Real baby carrots, the kind with lacy green tops and delicate peel (as opposed to the factory-shaped cylindrical ones that come in a bag), are tender and sweet and practically worth the trip to the farmers’ market just for them alone.
They’re so delicious they don’t really need anything at all. But hey, sometimes we like to gild the lily, and as much as we honor the perfection that is the real baby carrot, this surprisingly simple syrup steals the show here, elevating an already perfect vegetable into an elegant, dramatic, delectable side dish. The syrup goes equally well with roasted beets, and it’s also sublime drizzled over a well-seasoned grilled steak. Let your imagination run wild with this sauce—it will enliven a wide range of dishes.
Ingredients for the carrots:
- 3 pounds baby carrots (about finger-width thick), green tops trimmed to about 1 inch
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 or 6 (4-inch) sprigs fresh thyme
- For the cocktail:
Ingredients for the syrup:
- ½ cup aged balsamic vinegar (5- or 10-year aged is fine)
- ½ ounce Pure 85% Dark Chocolate, chopped
- ½ teaspoon honey
- Generous pinch kosher salt
Instructions (makes about 6 to 8 side-dish servings):
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Put the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle them with the olive oil, and spread them in a single layer. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the carrots, and lay the thyme sprigs on top. Roast until the carrots are tender and brown in spots, shaking the pan and turning once or twice, about 35 minutes total.
- While the carrots are cooking, make the syrup. Put the vinegar in the smallest saucepan you have and simmer over medium-low heat until reduced to ¼. cup. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for 30 seconds, then use a small spatula to gently stir the syrup until the chocolate has melted completely and the syrup is smooth. Add the honey and salt and mix well. Cover the pan to keep the sauce warm until you’re ready to serve the carrots.
- To serve, discard the thyme and arrange the carrots on a serving dish. Drizzle them generously with the syrup, and serve immediately.