Does a box of Cracker Jack bring back a lot of childhood memories for you? It sure does for us! We would often take Cracker Jacks camping, to the 4th of July parade and fireworks, and drive-in movie. We have so many fond memories of this “All American” treat that we all grew up with. But the best part was the peanuts at the bottom and of course the amazing prize. We tweaked this recipe so it has a little more caramel glaze and added more peanuts. The downside is that you will have to furnish your own fun prize! Your family will love this recipe. And remember the old Cracker Jack jingle that was on TV forever….Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize….that’s what you get with Cracker Jacks!!
1/2 cup popcorn kernels (about 13 cups popped popcorn)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/8 cup corn syrup
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons water
3/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups lightly salted peanuts
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and put the popped popcorn and peanuts in it. Mix them together gently.
In a small saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and water. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or about 4 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Immediately pour the hot mixture over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn/peanut mixture until all is coated.
Transfer all to the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out evenly.
Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees F, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
Gently break up the popcorn. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.