A blog by ordinary people about living an extraordinary life

New Year’s Eve 2011

Tonight Meg and I will be toasting the New Year with a few of our friends.  We will be enjoying some appetizers, a home cooked dinner, some sweet desserts and most certainly too many drinks.  Whether or not we all last until midnight is yet to be seen.  Today I have been preparing my final plates for 2011, crostini with tuna tapenade and chocolate caramel bars.  Happy New Year!!

Tuna Tapenade

This recipe was taken from the Barefoot Contessa’s book, How Easy is That.  I have to say, this recipe is very easy, and makes about 3 dozen crostinis.


  • 2 5oz cans of tuna in olive oil
  • 4 springs of fresh thyme
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 large garlic cloves, diced
  • the zest of one lemon
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of drained capers
  • 1/4 cup of chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup of mascarpone cheese (if the cheese is at room temperature it will mix better)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 loaf of french bread

The ingredients

Drain the tuna and place in a food processor.  Add the thyme, parsley, garlic and lemon zest.  Pulse until combined.  Add the lemon juice, olive oil and mascarpone cheese.  Process the mixture until it is smooth.  Add the capers, kalamata olives, salt and pepper, and pulse until combined again.

Place the tapenade in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Slice the french bread diagonally.  Place the slices on a baking sheet, lightly drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until slightly browned.  Serve the tapenade with the bread, garnished with fresh parsley.

Chocolate caramel bars

This is a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis.  It is a bit labor intensive, with 3 distinct preparations that need to be made (the crust, the caramel layer and the chocolate layer).  I have broken the recipe down into the 3 layers.  The total preparation time is about 4 hours.

The Graham Cracker Crust


  • 9 cinnamon graham crackers (1 sleeve)
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar

Prepare your 8″x8″ baking pan by spraying the pan with cooking spray, then lining with parchment paper (allow the parchment paper to go beyond the edge of the pan on 2 sides).  Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.

Mix the graham cracker and brown sugar in a food processor until smooth, should have a consistency of fine bread crumbs.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined.

Crust before baking.

Place the graham cracker in the pan and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly browned.  Allow the crust to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Graham cracker crust.

The Caramel Layer


  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (at room temperature)
  • 1 stick of butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Combine the ingredients in a stockpot and heat over low heat, whisking until the butter is melted.

Whisking away

Bring to a boil over low heat, and allow to boil for 5 minutes (do not stir the boiling mixture).  If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach 240F, but since we did not have one, I just boiled for 5 minutes and then turned off the heat.

Boiling caramel.

Pour the caramel mixture over the graham cracker crust.  Allow the caramel to harden for 30 minutes.

The Chocolate Topping


  • 12oz of semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee

Slowly melt the chocolate in the heavy cream over low heat.  Whisk in the instant coffee and stir until incorporated and the mixture is smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes total time.  Pour the chocolate over the harden caramel.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

I can hardly wait to give these a taste.

Allow the chocolate layer to harden for about 2 hours.  Cut the bars into squares.


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This entry was posted on December 31, 2011 by in Peter Waterman's posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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