Treats Week: MacGyver Balls

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I would like to officially take credit for turning “MacGyver” into a verb.  It was about ten years ago, I think.  Since then, I’ve used it pretty much all the time.  And now it seems to be entering the general lexicon.  So that’s a win for me I think.  Or for whoever actually coined the term.  MacGyver, if you’re not aware, was a fantastic show from the late eighties about a dude who could save the world by solving science and physics problems with what he had at hand.  The joke is that he can defuse a nuclear bomb using only a paperclip.  And he probably did.  Macgyver was one of my heroes when I was a child.  I tend to “macgyver” a lot of things around our house, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.  It’s another form of “half-assed halfassery,” which is also a coinage of mine.  Anyway, I’ve heard it being used as a verb on TV now so I would like to take the credit while I can.  Although if you also invented the word then good on you too!

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Well, today I’m taking the term into the kitchen.  There’s a certain round chocolate confection of which I’m sure we’re all aware.  It comes wrapped in gold paper and commercials for it usually involve swanky parties of well-dressed demigods surrounding a pyramid made of the little shiny balls.  While what I’ve made below isn’t quite the version you can buy in the store, I think it’s a pretty decently-macgyvered version of the same.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Take 2 1/2 cups hazelnuts (filberts) and spread them on a baking sheet.

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Toast in your oven, shaking a couple times, for about 10 minutes, or until the skins start to blacken and bubble. Remove the nuts from the oven and plop in the centre of a clean tea towel.  Wrap the towel around the nuts and allow them to steam for a few minutes.

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Then rub the towel briskly over the nuts to remove the skins and allow the nuts to cool completely. If you don’t get all the skins off, don’t worry about it.

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When they are completely cool, pour them into a food processor to crush them into small pieces.

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Take about 3 cups Nutella (or store-brand alternative).  I am using the name brand because other versions are hard to get here in St. John’s and, well, it’s made by the company who makes the bon-bons I’m sort-of copying so I figure I’m on the right track, right?  Anyway, the jar contains approximately 3 cups of the stuff, so I’m going with that.  Scoop all that out into a bowl.

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Pour in 4 cups crisped rice cereal (AKA Rice Crispies) and mix those into the Nutella, making sure to get it all evenly combined without breaking too many of the rice bits.  In the real thing, there’s a ball of soft chocolate in the middle with a crunchy shell around it, but this is my version.

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If you wanted to be authentic you could make little spheres of frozen Nutella and roll them in the cereal. But that sounds hard.

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Take a spoon and start scooping balls of chocolate rice onto a sheet of waxed paper.  When you’ve got them all scooped, pop them in the freezer for an hour or two.  Mine I froze overnight.

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In the meantime, chop up 20 ounces dark chocolate and melt it in a double boiler or heat safe bowl suspended over a pot of simmering water.

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Allow the melted chocolate to cool to almost room temperature.  You want it cool enough it won’t melt the frozen Nutella balls, but not too cool that you can’t work with it.

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Spear a frozen Nutella ball with a skewer and dip it into the cooled chocolate.

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Roll the ball in the crushed hazelnuts until completely covered and lay on a sheet of waxed paper to cool completely and harden.

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The recipe above makes exactly 48 golf ball sized MacGuyver balls, so I’m sure you can use any fraction of this to make a smaller amount.

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Crunchy Squares

I made these as a present for the Pie when he came to visit me at Thanksgiving.  The man is a slave to peanut butter, and I like to express my love through food.  We’re a well-matched pair.

The recipe I have calls for 1 cup of crispy rice cereal and 2 cups corn flakes cereal.  I don’t particularly like eating either of those cereals (they get soggy too fast) so I didn’t want to be stuck with piles of cereal when I was finished the recipe.  The solution?  Special K.  A small box containing a mixture of both cereals.  And high in protein too.  In doubling the recipe, I ended up using the entire box (6 cups cereal), which was an added bonus.

For the double recipe you need 1 cup corn syrup.

Corn syrup photographs really well, don’t you think?

2 cups smooth peanut butter.

1/2 cup butter or margarine (go for the real deal).

1 cup packed brown sugar.

And 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

In a saucepan over low heat, stir together peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup.

Get it all melty and stuff until it’s all smooth and looks like caramel. Caramel made of peanut butter, that is.

Remove it from the heat and mix in the vanilla.

Pour your cereals (2 cups crispy rice, 4 cups corn flakes) in a bowl an mix them (or use my cop-out cheat method of 6 cups Special K Satisfaction).

Pour in the peanut butter goo and mix well.

Press evenly into a sprayed pan (double the recipe makes for a 9×13″ pan).

Chill for 6 hours or until firm.  Flip mixture onto a flat surface and cut into squares.  You might need a spatula to help you ease the squares out of the pan.

Enjoy.  I know the Pie did.

Will keep in an airtight container for ages and ages (separate layers with waxed paper).