Can carrots taste like candy? Yup.
And not in the way your parents told you cow tongue tastes just like roast beef. EW. GAG. It may very well taste like roast beef, but it never crossed my lips because all I could think about was what it might be like to eat my own tongue on a platter, and I was GROSSED OUT. You could play devil’s advocate and tell me that I have no problem eating chicken thighs, and you would be right. Something about tongue makes my skin crawl. It doesn’t make sense… except that it totally makes sense because it’s TONGUE.
But candy carrots? Oh yeah, baby, sign me up.
We all know that roasting vegetables is pretty much a guarantee that they will taste great (and if not, just add ketchup, which makes everything taste better… except TONGUE because nothing can make that taste better. Blech.). But roasting them in maple syrup and bourbon? Helllooooooo!!!
I even went the extra mile to buy the cute baby carrots with the tops attached instead of the dry-looking carrots in the bag. The bagged carrots say ‘I’m utilitarian; you need to eat me for night vision.’ The cute little baby carrots with the tops attached said ‘Roast me in maple syrup and bourbon and I’ll taste like candy. Eye candy.’
Oh my gosh, I totally just made a beta carotene joke. Somewhere my micronutrient metabolism professor is smiling.
All you do is peel them, pour the syrupy bourbon mixture over them, and slap them in the oven to work their magic. Then you get to eat pretty, tender carrot candy. Beta carotene never tasted so good.
- 3 lbs baby carrots, preferably with green tops, peeled and trimmed, leaving ½ inch of tops attached
- ½ c pure maple syrup
- ¼ c olive oil
- 3 T good-quality bourbon (optional... but not really)
- Pinch of cayenne
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Spread the carrots in a single layer on a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet (I used a large roasting pan- easier for tossing everything with the syrup with minimal slopping of ingredients). In a measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, oil and bourbon (if using).
- Drizzle the syrup mixture over the carrots and sprinkle with the cayenne and 2 tsp salt. Using your hands or tongs, toss the carrots to coat evenly.
- Roast the carrots, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Toss and continue to roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes (or longer if carrots are thicker- mine took about 10 additional minutes). Transfer to a platter and serve. (Note- you can roast the carrots up to an hour ahead and either serve at room temperature or re-warm in the oven in the roasting pan).