Creative Cooking Crew: Candied Bacon and Apple Halva with Maple Gastrique


I am sure I have mentioned this before but just in case, I do not really watch cooking shows. So don’t say to me :have you heard of the latest crazy chef “enter name here”? Chances are you will be the first to tell me. I like cooking shows but I have trouble keeping full attention. It is the same with sports on TV. Of course I am aware of the hit shows, take Chopped for instance where a mystery basket of ingredients is given and must all be used in a recipe.

apple bacon halva 9

Well that is exactly our theme this month for the Creative Cooking Crew which is hosted by Lazaro Cooks and Foodalogue. I was really excited by this challenge. Give me weird stuff to mix up and I am a happy gal! The ingredients we were given were Granny Smith apples, nut butter, vinegar and bacon. When I read the list I had no idea what to make but I wanted the extra challenge of coming up with a dessert. My creation is a Candied Bacon and Apple Halva with Maple Gastrique.

apple bacon halva 3

OK so halva is made of tahini, or sesame seeds, technically not a nut. But it is often sold as a nut butter and I cleared it with the hosts. I adore halva, a candy made of sugar and sesame paste. The store kind had a nice brittle flaky texture which is apparently hard to reproduce at home in small quantities. My first attempt was a fail because I got a more liquid tahini. Make sure to get a thick sesame paste! I approached my second try more like a fudge recipe and it was a success. To that I added some cubed apples and maple syrup candied bacon.

apple bacon halva 8

Here is a bit of info on halva, in case you are not familiar with it. This popular candy calls many regions of the world home: Middle East, Asia, North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Jewish world. There are two basic versions to the “paste”: one is made with a nut butter and the other with a flour base. Often nuts, dried fruits, some vegetables, chocolate or seeds are added. The nut butter one has a dry and flaky texture, where as the flour one is moist like a steamed English pudding.

apple bacon halva 6

adapted from The Clever Carrot

Maple Candied Bacon

Rating: 51


  • 3 slices of good quality bacon
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Wrap a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a wire rack.
  2. In a large bowl add the maple syrup and the bacon to the bowl and toss gently with your hands. Make sure that all of the slices are evenly coated. Place the bacon in a single layer onto the wire rack.
  3. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes. The bacon will be a bit brown, but will most likely need to bake for another 10-15 minutes. It should look slightly dark and crispy. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on the rack. Cut into pieces.

apple bacon halva 2

You know sometimes innocence is bliss. I love mixing up ethnic recipes with unexpected ingredients. But of course leave it to me to put bacon in a traditional Jewish or Middle Eastern dessert. This was pointed out to me by my non religious but Jewish friend who happens to be a vegetarian. We had quite a laugh. Oops!

apple bacon halva 7


adapted from Your Abu Dhabi Guide

Candied Bacon and Apple Halva with Maple Gastrique

Rating: 51

Candied Bacon and Apple Halva with Maple Gastrique

A Candied Bacon and Apple Halva with Maple Gastrique dessert was my inspiration following the Creative Cooking Crew challenge of using apples, nut butter, vinegar and bacon in one recipe.


  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste), beaten to mix in any excess oil
  • 1/3 cup bacon pieces, packed
  • 1/2 cup apple, cut into small cubes


  1. Boil a mixture of milk and sugar in a pan over medium heat until it reaches the soft-ball phase or until the candy thermometer reaches "soft ball" stage or 240°F. Remove from heat and add the tahini without stirring it in ( this helps form the sugar crystals). Leave the pan alone until the mixture cools down to 110°F. Stir in apples and bacon. Beat with a wooden spoon until it looses it’s shininess. Pour into an small oiled mold lined with baking paper (I used a 6 in cake pan) or a plastic container. Make sure all the apples are pushed in and covered by the mixture. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Cut into slices while cold.


apple bacon halva 5

The vinegar puzzled me for a bit. I did dip my cubed apples in a bowl of cold water with a bit of vinegar so they would not oxidized but I did not think it was a big enough effort.

apple bacon halva 1

Finally my friend who happens to be a professional pastry chef suggested I make a gastrique. A gastrique is a sauce made of caramelized sugar which has been deglazed with vinegar. Since I used maple syrup for the bacon I figured I would used maple syrup for the gastrique as well. This bacon-maple syrup combo is just awesome, very appropriate as it is Maple Syrup Season. This was actually the theme of a challenge I hosted once on a Daring Bakers.

apple bacon halva 4

Maple gastrique

Rating: 51


  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup


  1. In a small saucepan set over high heat, boil the vinegar until reduced by half. Add the maple syrup and reduce until the mixture is thick. Drizzle over halva slices.

28 comments to Creative Cooking Crew: Candied Bacon and Apple Halva with Maple Gastrique

  • A lovely take on the challenge. I could just eat up the maple bacon.

  • We love halva, but I’ve never made it myself. Thanks for the lesson on how to make it, just might have to try that.
    Excellent use of the mystery basket!

  • Joan Nova

    Really creative use of basket ingredients. Love those maple gastrique droplets on last photo.

  • I’m with you about cooking shows, lol! Actually, the only time I turn on my tv is to watch one of the two shows I actually follow: Game of Thrones and The Borgias. (I am so excited – they are both starting up again soon!) Anyway, this is gorgeous, and such a creative use of our lovely ingredients. I think I see maple candied turkey bacon in my near future. :)

  • What a creative use of the the ingredients the apple halva sounds great!
    p.s. I’m guilty of liking some cooking shows… Australia masterchef being one of them…

  • Durr… Yeah, I highly doubt I could not eat the candied bacon immediately after making it.

    Or bacon for that matter.

  • Halva with candied bacon and apple…writing that down has made my mouth looks seriously tempting!

  • Liz

    Yup, this challenge is perfect for you…and you certainly rose to the occasion! What a delectable treat…but it’s that candied bacon that’s tempting me the most. Whoa, baby…I’d probably have to make a double batch to have enough for your recipe.

    PS…thanks for your sweet note. Bill’s dad was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and it’s moving fast.

  • Never tried something like this before but it looks quite tasty, candied bacon sounds AWESOME.

  • How intriguing! I’ve never made Halwa before but I’ve eaten plenty of it. I love it 😀 I’ve also had halwa in Oman where it’s like a Turkish delight texture.

  • The Squishy Monster

    What a unique pairing with meat candy! YUM!!!

  • oh wow, what a great way to use those ingredients!! very intrigued about halva, don’t think i’ve ever tried it!

  • Wow! That is very creative. A Middle Eastern dessert paired with candied bacon. Looks and sounds wonderful!

  • I’ve never even heard of Halva but it sure looks delicious!

  • That bacon looks tempting, Mmmmmmmm

  • That dish sounds interesting and delicious! Great recipe for the challenge, Evelyne!

  • So interesting Evelyne…never thought in putting all this ingredients in one dish…you are sure very creative.
    Have a great week :)

  • Laz

    Creative blend of ingredients. Would enjoy giving this dish a try.

  • Halva is a sweet that all countries from the Mediterranean and into Asia make it with variations! This is a beautiful loaded with flavors one! We make halva in Greece with semolina and raisins. You can find the recipe in my blog!

  • Look at you go! This looks amazing and so original. Well done girl.

  • I love halva and I love a maple gastrique! What a unique way to look at your ingredients! I wish I could reach through the screen and take a bite, it looks so good. I’m glad you asked about the tahini as “nut” butter, while it is a seed, I consider it to be a nut butter too. And you are not missing anything by not watching the cooking shows, they are getting boring.

  • Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me!

    Love, love it…You really came up with tastic dish..Congrats!

  • Karyn

    What a success! It looks absolutely divine, I wish I could taste it!
    I’m more familiar with the flaky halva, this version looks so good and I’m sure the flavors worked really well together, and honestly, everything is better with bacon. :)

  • love this! awesome job on the challenge!

  • It’s fun to read about the process someone goes through to create a dish. I was like you and decided to go the dessert route. The vinegar was a bit of a hitch but like you, I worked through it and was ecstatic with the result.

    Beautiful dish and love the way you played with the ingredients!

  • I’m the same way and don’t watch any cooking shows or can tell you who famous chefs are. What a fun challenge. Your halva sounds and looks really good — great combo of flavours. Have a great weekend Evelyne!:)

  • Maria D

    Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to cook one and eat it! Yum! A dessert with candied bacon!

  • […] fun and crazy themes. Last month we had a Chopped (TV show) like challenge where we had to use Granny Smith apples, nut butter, vinegar and bacon in a […]