My children love Cracker Jacks. And I’m sure they’re not the only ones. After all, these delicious popcorn kernels have been known in the States for over a hundred years and they’re still going strong! However, just like much of the other junk food out there, Cracker Jacks are definitely not what a dietician would consider a healthy snack.
That’s why I was overjoyed when I accidentally figured out a way to make great-tasting homemade Cracker Jacks! My kids are finally able to eat healthy (relatively) Cracker Jacks whenever they want and I don’t have to worry about what harmful additives and preservatives are in the ingredients list – that’s because there aren’t any!
So how did I manage to make these delicious faux Cracker Jacks? Well, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit it but I was actually trying to make simple caramel popcorn. I accidentally made too much caramel coating and I immediately realized that the end result was never going to resemble what I was going for. So on a whim, I decided to add in some peanuts and put the whole thing in the oven. Only after I tasted it once it finished cooling, I noticed that what I made was essentially Cracker Jacks!
Eating homemade sweets and snacks that so closely resemble the original product is very satisfying. Not only because of the delicious flavor but also due to the fact that I am fully aware of what goes into the food. And I know that I made it as healthy as humanly possible.
Homemade Cracker Jacks
- a wooden spoon
- a food chopper (or a sharp knife)
- a mixing bowl
- a rubber scraper
- a jelly roll pan
- parchment paper
- a large saucepan
- 4 cups of plain popcorn
- 1 cup of butter (preferably grass-fed)
- 1 ½ cups of roasted and salted peanuts
- 2 ½ cups of coconut sugar
- ½ t. of vanilla extract
- ½ t. of sea salt
- ½ t. of baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Slowly melt the butter in a saucepan
- Add the sugar and heat the mixture over medium high heat. Constantly stir with a wooden spoon until it combines. Remember that it might take some time: first, you will see how it becomes grainy, and then the butter will separate from the sugar. After a few more minutes of stirring the mixture should combine nicely.
- Once combined, turn the stove to high heat so that the mixture will simmer.
- Then lower the heat again and let it boil for 5 minutes while constantly stirring with the wooden spoon. Remove the saucepan from the pan.
- Add the vanilla extract, sea salt, and baking soda and stir quickly.
- Combine the caramel mixture with popcorn and peanuts in a large mixing bowl. Make sure each piece is well-coated.
- Spread the popcorn onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Make the layer even so that all kernels bake evenly.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Break the popcorn into pieces and enjoy your healthy Cracker Jacks!