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Carrots are rarely craved. But with just the tiniest bit of chocolate \0x2015 a couple squares from a bar of extra-dark -- these vegetables can go from a pleasant vehicle for Vitamin A to a rich, tangy side dish that won't go unnoticed alongside your steak.
Rinse and peel a bag of whole carrots, or maybe two bags. You might think one bag of carrots is more than enough, but once you start eating the finished product, you'll be surprised how quickly they disappear.
Cut the carrots into slices that are about the same length and width as your finger, then pile them into a parchment paper-lined baking dish.
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Drizzle the carrots liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. If you're using thyme from a jar, shake it generously over the carrots. If you bought your thyme fresh, place about four of five sprigs right on top.
Bake the carrots in the oven at 375 degrees for about half an hour, or until you notice -- even through the scent of that steak -- that the great smell you're smelling is coming from the vegetables that have grown soft and slightly brown in the oven.
In a saucepan over medium heat, let a half cup of balsamic vinegar reduce to about \0xBC of a cup. In the meantime, finely chop a couple squares of extra dark chocolate. Break off another square for yourself as a snack, and one for your date if you're feeling generous.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and sprinkle in the chocolate. Let it melt for a moment, then whisk with gusto. Drizzle honey over the surface of the sauce, stir in a couple pinches of coarse salt, and taste.
Drizzle the sauce over the carrots straight from the saucepan.
Serve the carrots alongside your steak with an extra drizzle of sauce on top, or eat like us, and just grab the carrots right from the pan, shoveling them in like french fries.
Tip: Buy a nice, large baguette to tear up and dip into the olive oil, chocolate balsamic sauce, salt and thyme that pools in the bottom of the baking pan.