Thursday, October 28, 2010

Homemade Cracker Jack

Here's a great last minute snack to make for your Halloween festivities: Homemade Cracker Jack.

I remember eating lots of Cracker Jack as a kid. There was something about that simple cardboard box, the sweet and crunchy popcorn, and the thrill of the prize inside. It was always one of my favorite treats. I still love Cracker Jack but I can never seem to find it in the nostalgic paper box, and the prizes? meh. The last time I got one it must've been a temporary tattoo... what happened to the toys?! I digress, but the crunchy, sweet, salty, popcorn is still just as good. Although these days, I pull out a handful of pantry staples and make my own. (with extra peanuts!)

Homemade Cracker Jack
(printable recipe)

3 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c un-popped popcorn
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 c dark brown sugar*
1/2 c corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c salted peanuts

Heat the canola oil over a medium high heat with 3 kernels of corn. When they pop add the remaining popcorn and cover, leaving the lid propped open (to allow steam to escape). Shake the pot until all the popcorn has popped, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan, stir in sugar and syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Cook 8 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in salt, vanilla, and baking powder (stir quickly and carefully as the syrup will foam up!) Stir in the peanuts and popcorn, make sure they are coated thoroughly. Spread the mixture out on a greased baking sheet to cool completely.

It will look glorious and irresistible. Sneak a quick taste, its ok. Just don't burn yourself!
Once it has cooled break apart into clusters or bite size pieces. Keep in a ziploc bag, stays fresh for at least a week! (if it lasts that long)

*Use dark brown sugar for that familiar Cracker Jack taste. Use light brown sugar if you're not a big fan of molasses, it will still taste great!

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