Chocolate and carrots? That’s not a combination I would ever have imagined before “Theo Chocolate: Recipes & Sweet Treats from Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker” landed in my mailbox.

But the photo of roasted baby carrots with balsamic-bitter chocolate syrup looked so good I knew that would be the first recipe I’d try in a book packed with ideas for decadent desserts and unexpected savory dishes. No surprise, the recipes heavily feature the Seattle company’s popular chocolate products.

The book, written by company owners Debra Music and Joe Whinney, includes 75 sweet and savory recipes peppered with photos and descriptions that would wow any chocolate lover. It begins with the story behind Theo Chocolate – started by then spouses Music and Whinney – and continues with an engaging and educational section on the bean-to-chocolate bar process.

Perhaps the most useful section of the book focuses on the basics of working with chocolate, from how to store it to tips for successful confectionery work. The authors note you don’t have to be a pastry chef or scientist to work with chocolate, but that a little education and patience “will go a long way to ensuring your success in the kitchen.”

As I flipped through the book, I had no troubling finding recipes I’m sure to come back to – roasted squash with brown butter nibs and coconut curry-milk chocolate biscotti included – but I kept returning to the carrots. So carrots with chocolate it was.

The recipe was easy to follow and includes a photo (every recipe in the book does, a big plus in my mind), but in the end it wasn’t my favorite. The carrots came out perfectly roasted using Music and Whinney’s instructions – so perfect I almost didn’t want to add the sauce for serving. The sauce itself was simple to make and it tasted fine, but it just wasn’t my thing. Maybe I’m too much of a purist when it comes to roasted fresh vegetables. I will, however, continue to roast my carrots with fresh thyme in just the way the recipe suggests.

I may not try the carrots with balsamic-bitter chocolate syrup again in the near future, but I don’t doubt this book will be in heavy rotation when I’m in the mood for a decadent dessert. Up next for me: a salted caramel tart with chocolate shell or a dark chocolate stout bundt cake. The tough decision will be which to try first.


Roasted Baby Carrots with Balsamic-Bitter Chocolate Syrup

Roasted Baby Carrots with Balsamic-Bitter Chocolate Syrup

3 pounds baby carrots (about finger-width thick), green tops trimmed to about 1 inch

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme


½ cup aged balsamic vinegar

½ ounce Theo 85 percent dark chocolate, chopped

½ teaspoon honey

Generous pinch kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. 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 s prigs on top. Roast until the carrots are tender and brown in spots, shaking the pan and turning one or twice, about 35 minutes total.

3. 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.

4. To serve, discard the thyme and arrange the carrots on a serving dish. Drizzle them generously with the syrup and serve immediately.

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