This recipe was a sort of happy accident. I was figuring out how to make this caramel corn and one of the early attempts yielded way too much caramel coating for the amount of popcorn. So I added some peanuts, baked it, and then let it cool. And when I tasted it, I realized: this tastes like cracker jacks!
Unlike my effort to figure out caramel chips (a dismal failure; I’m still working on that one!), this accidental cracker jack recipe is one I’m sure will be a big hit. My kids love taking a bag to school in their lunch. I love that the sugar is wholesome. And I have even made a double batch and brought it to a party with great success!
I grew up eating the occasional box of cracker jacks. It’s soft yet crunchy, sweet and salty, and even a little smoky all at the same time. It actually didn’t occur to me that I could make my own. I had just shelved the idea that I would eat anything like it anymore, favoring real food desserts over anything from a box. I’m glad I stumbled across this idea!
- large saucepan and wooden spoon
- good knife or food chopper
- jelly roll pan and parchment paper
- glass bowl and rubber scraper
Homemade Cracker Jack (Peanut & Caramel Popcorn)
4 cups popped plain popcorn
1 1/2 cups roasted and salted peanuts, preferably soaked and dehydrated (see how here)
1 cup butter (buy grass-fed butter here, how to make butter here)
2 1/2 cups coconut sugar (buy coconut or palm sugar here)
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla (buy extracts here)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (buy aluminum-free baking soda here)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (buy unrefined salt here)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Melt butter gently in a saucepan. Add sugar after the butter melts, and heat over medium high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly until nicely combined. This will take a few minutes: at first the mixture will be grainy, then the butter will separate from the sugar, and then it will come together.
- Once the mixture comes together, raise the heat to get the mixture to simmer. Lower the heat slightly and let boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Add vanilla, baking soda, and salt, stirring quickly to combine and taking care not to get splattered. Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and peanuts, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until well-coated. Then spread the popcorn mixture in an even layer onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Break into pieces and chomp!