Homemade Cracker Jack

“Take me out to ball game,

take me out with the crowd;

buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…”

That’s right, we’re recreating the ballpark experience by making homemade cracker jack! With just a little prep (and a lot of popcorn) you can make this delicious classic in your own home.

TheChic_homemade-cracker-jack

Seriously, is there is anything as addicting as popcorn coated in a sweet caramel and mixed with lightly salted peanuts?

TheChic_cracker-jack

This caramel popcorn isn’t just for baseball games.  They’re perfect for parties and gatherings of all sorts.  Make it for your next movie night or wine party.  Omit the peanuts, or add any nut of your choice.  Drizzle the finished caramel popcorn with melted chocolate, add M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces.  The combinations are endless!  I foresee making large quantities of this recipe for holiday gift giving!

Homemade Cracker Jack, makes about 10 cups

Ingredients

9 cups freshly popped plain popcorn

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 Tbsp molasses

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup lightly salted peanuts

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with silpat mat, or parchment paper. Set aside.  Place freshly popped popcorn and peanuts in the largest bowl you have. Set aside.

TheChic_caramel-for-cracker-jack

2. In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pot, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, butter, salt, and water.  Set over medium heat to melt butter and sugar.  Using a candy thermometer or food safe thermometer, cook sugar mixture to 250 degrees F.  Stir mixture as needed to ensure even cooking.

3.  Once mixture has reached 250 degrees F, remove from heat.  Add baking soda and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.  BE CAREFUL!  The caramel will bubble and rise when you add the baking soda.

TheChic_stir-caramel-into-popcorn
4. Pour warm caramel over popcorn.  Using a large spatula, fold to distribute caramel and ensure each popcorn kernel gets a little sauce.
 
TheChic_bake-popcorn

5. Spread caramel popcorn into a thin even layer over prepared baking sheet.  If necessary, use more than one baking sheet if popcorn does not fit.  Bake for 1 hour, removing baking sheet every 15-20 minutes to stir popcorn and ensure even caramel distribution.

TheChic_homemade-cracker-jack-popcorn6.  Remove from oven and let popcorn cool slightly.  Break up any large clumps that may have formed.  Store homemade cracker jack in an airtight container.

Homemade Cracker Jack
Yields 10
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Ingredients
  1. 9 cups freshly popped plain popcorn
  2. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  3. 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  5. 1 Tbsp molasses
  6. 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  7. 2 Tbsp water
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  10. 1 cup lightly salted peanuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line baking sheet with silpat mat, or parchment paper. Set aside. Place freshly popped popcorn and peanuts in the largest bowl you have. Set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pot, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, butter, salt, and water. Set over medium heat to melt butter and sugar. Using a candy thermometer or food safe thermometer, cook sugar mixture to 250 degrees F. Stir mixture as needed to ensure even cooking.
  3. Once mixture has reached 250 degrees F, remove from heat. Add baking soda and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. BE CAREFUL! The caramel will bubble and rise when you add the baking soda.
  4. Pour warm caramel over popcorn. Using a large spatula, fold to distribute caramel and ensure each popcorn kernel gets a little sauce.
  5. Spread caramel popcorn into a thin even layer over prepared baking sheet. If necessary, use more than one baking sheet if popcorn does not fit. Bake for 1 hour, removing baking sheet every 15-20 minutes to stir popcorn and ensure even caramel distribution.
  6. Remove from oven and let popcorn cool slightly. Break up any large clumps that may have formed. Store in an airtight container.
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