And now it begins.

My wife and I rarely fight, but late October and into November is our debate season. We are focusing on what to serve during Thanksgiving week when we are feasting with friends and family. Each year now we want something new to adorn the table. We agree on that.

We do not agree on what “adorn” means. I showed Suzen this recipe from the new Theo Chocolate cookbook and assumed she would beam in agreement.

“Too sweet,” she said. I was disappointed but not defeated.

This, you see, is why we have two ovens. She will make her contributions to Thanksgiving and I shall make mine.

This is my kind of recipe. Yes, it is sweet, but only a little. More importantly, this is precisely the side dish so many of you need. Really. On Thanksgiving, you may expend serious energy on that turkey or the pies or the stuffing. You can run out of time and even patience. You should not go the table dragging your tush, too tired to enjoy the labors of the day.

So, labor less. This is not a hard recipe, yet it will provide a complex, multi-layered flavor that will add a sweet sharpness to your table.

Roasted Baby Carrots with Balsamic-Bitter Chocolate Syrup

Yield: serves 6-8


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 syrup:

  • ½ cup aged balsamic vinegar (5- or 10-year aged is fine)
  • ½ ounce Theo 85 percent dark chocolate, chopped [or other high grade chocolate]
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • Generous pinch kosher salt


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.

Source: Theo Chocolate by Debra Music and Joe Whinney [Sasquatch Press, 2015]