It didn't look good. It didn't look good at all.
As my hands became enrobed in a layer of melted chocolate, toffee bits, ooey goey chunky peanut butter, and marshmallow, I couldn't help but feel frustrated by the sticky process of executing the festive rice krispies balls for my office holiday party. When I found the recipe, I thought that the balls would be the perfect thing to serve to my hungry, slightly inebriated co-workers -- they looked super cute in the picture in Oprah magazine, I could make them ahead of time without compromising taste or freshness, and they don't require an obscene number of ingredients.
Yet, as I looked down at the golf ball-sized treats that were coated with unsightly streaks of melted chocolate, I couldn't help but feel deflated. They did not look like adorable little ornaments. They looked messy and imperfect -- like a four-year-old had been let loose in my kitchen.
My concerns about the balls were further punctuated the following morning when I stumbled upon an article in the LA Times Health section entitled, "Grossed out by holiday potlucks? Join the crowd." The piece focuses upon the ugly side of potlucks -- the potential for food-poisoning and the neurotic fears of people who don't like eating other people's homemade goods/casseroles because they don't know their standards for cleanliness in the kitchen. As someone who dreads potlucks and avoids questionable casseroles for this very reason, I became convinced that nobody would want to eat my treats. I imagined my co-workers wrinkling their noses up in disgust, as they pictured my grubby hands rolling the balls into a globby chocolate mess. They would go uneaten, unappreciated and unsung -- little heroes of goodness hidden beneath a shroud of ugly.
Undeterred by the potential for public shunned-party-good humiliation, I decided to bring my balls to the gathering anyway. I stacked them up in the shape of a Christmas tree and prayed that my colleagues would not judge them like that snot-nosed Lucy judged Charlie Brown for his sad sack of a tree. Fortunately, my co-workers proved to be exceedingly less neurotic than I -- gobbling up the treats with nary a hint of concern about my hygiene. One girl asked me how I made them, and seemed genuinely taken aback when I stammered, "And then I rolled them into balls -- but, don't worry! I washed my hands really well before!"
She didn't seem particularly worried about my commitment to antibacterial products, but I suspect she may now be worried about my sanity.
I don't blame her. (I sometimes worry about it too!)
Regardless, the treats turned out really tasty. Chewy and almost caramel-like in texture due to the sensual marriage of toffee bits and chunky peanut butter, the balls have an addicting quality. If I hadn't made them myself, I might have wondered if the chef injected little bits of crack cocaine in the center. Of course, if I hadn't made them myself, I probably wouldn't have eaten four. Or any for that matter. I certainly didn't go near the other desserts at the party -- in particular the buckeyes that someone else had to shape in their potentially bacteria-ridden hands.
Nothing says "un-Merry Christmas!" like a nasty cold or bacterial infection. So wash well before gifting these upon colleagues, friends and family. They're only good until someone lands in the hospital with a nasty case of salmonella (or discovers a cat hair in the middle of their third one).
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Rice Krispies Balls
(Recipe from Oprah Magazine, December 2008)
Makes 16 balls (I doubled the recipe to make 32, but only did half at a time to keep them from hardening too quickly)
2 (1.4-ounce) chocolate-covered toffee candy bars (I used Skor bars)
2 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
16 regular-size marshmallows
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Leaving candy bars in wrappers, use a rolling pin to pound and crush bars into small pieces.
Place Rice Krispies in a large bowl and set aside.Place peanut butter in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high until hot, about 45 seconds. Add marshmallows and microwave on high until softened, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, place peanut butter and marshmallows in a heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.) - (I chose the saucepan option)
Working quickly, stir to combine mixture with Rice Krispies. Stir until evenly coated. Add crushed candy bars and chocolate chips. Stir until combined.
Coat your hands with oil and shape mixture into spheres the size of golf balls, making 16 treats. (I made one batch with oiled hands and one batch without and didn't notice a difference -- I say skip it!)
The balls will keep up to one week at room temperature.