For the Bacon-Lover’s Holiday Stocking…

It takes courage to write a book of dessert recipes focused on cutting down sugar and counting calories…and pull it off!

Bravo to Marisa Churchill, author of “Sweet & Skinny,” who has presented two delightful classes with Fresh Starts Chef Events and now is wrapping up a second cookbook. She continues her culinary explorations, recently blogging with Huffington Post about her adventures with acorns on the Greek island of Kea.

Chef Marisa Churchill at Fresh Starts Chef Events

Chef Marisa Churchill presents her cookbook

Her appearance earlier this month on Access Hollywood included this recipe as a holiday favorite, which she also demonstrated for our guests in her December 2011 class with us. It makes a great surprise for the bacon-lover’s holiday stocking!

Candy from Sweet & Skinny Cookbook

Smoked Paprika and Bacon Toffee (bottom)

Smoked Paprika and Bacon Toffee – makes about 45 pieces

4 slices smoked bacon about ¼ inch thick, preferably applewood-smoked
2 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
Scant ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup milk chocolate chips
1 teaspoon smoked coarse sea salt, to garnish
Nonstick pan spray

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until the edges are crisp and brown. Lower the temperature to medium and continue to cook until completely dried and crisp.

Remove bacon from pan, blot with a paper towel and transfer to a sheet pan.  Cool the bacon for 5 minutes, then finely chop it.

Put the chopped bacon into a small bowl and sprinkle it with smoked paprika, salt, and baking soda, tossing to coat. Set aside.

In a small, non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel or copper works best; avoid nonstick), stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and one-third cup water to completely moisten the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, using a pastry brush dipped into cold water to brush any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. After the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear and bubbling, raise the heat to medium-high.

Add the butter, a spoonful at a time, without stirring, while allowing it to melt between additions. Once the mixture begins to turn a darker caramel color, stir it with a heat-proof spatula, as needed, to cook evenly. When the mixture turns a deep golden color, turn off the heat and, working carefully (it will be very hot!), vigorously stir in the bacon-paprika mixture.

Immediately pour the toffee onto the prepared pan and spread it into a thin layer, covering the entire pan. Cool the toffee for 15 minutes, until it is set. Invert the pan over a flat surface to release the toffee from the foil and break it into about 45 pieces.

Just before serving, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until you can stir it smooth. (Alternatively, use a microwave oven.) Use a butter knife to spread a thin layer of chocolate onto the flat side of the toffee pieces and sprinkle with the smoked salt. Let the chocolate firm up for 20 minutes before serving.


About Fresh Starts Chef Events

Fresh Starts Chef Events offers a parade of presentations by celebrity chefs, cookbook authors and artisan producers in The Key Room. Visit the online calendar at for upcoming events. Our list of presenters includes luminaries from the worlds of food, wine and restaurants who share stories, demonstrate techniques and offer tips on making the most of our local bounty. You can register online for upcoming classes or call us for more details at 415-382-3363 x243. Proceeds from our events support shelter and job-training programs at Homeward Bound of Marin; learn more at and
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