What Are Cracker Jacks?
Most of you likely already know the answer to this question. Cracker Jacks are a classic American snack that consist of crunchy molasses caramel popcorn and peanuts. Cracker Jacks are packaged in a bold red, white, and blue box and their most memorable feature is the inclusion of a small prize in every box.
What makes this recipe a close copycat of Cracker Jacks instead of just run-of-the-mill caramel popcorn is the use of brown sugar and addition of molasses to the caramel. These two ingredients provide that special dark caramel flavor with the extra bite that is characteristic of the commercial version of this snack.
In addition to the caramel, redskin Spanish peanuts are a must. If you are familiar with eating Cracker Jacks, you'll be familiar with the peanuts slipping out of their caramel-coated skins when biting into a cluster of sweet goodness. It's subtle and unique.
What Kind of Popcorn Should I Use?
You can use any kind of plain popped popcorn that you want. Yes, even microwave popcorn will work! If you use microwave popcorn, go for plain or lightly salted instead of varieties that are heavily buttered or flavored, as that will alter the accuracy of the flavor of your Cracker Jacks.
How To Make Popcorn On The Stove
Use a heavy-bottomed pan and place over medium heat. Add 2 TBS of oil (Extra-virgin olive oil or canola work best) and 2 popcorn kernels. Cover tightly with lid. Listen carefully for the two kernels to pop. Once they've popped, lift the lid and pour in ½ cup of kernels. Immediately replace the lid and shake the pan back and forth to distribute the oil. Lower the heat to low and continue shaking the pan frequently. You'll hear the kernels start to pop rapidly. Remove pan from heat as soon as the popping slows to 2 seconds per pop. Leave the lid on until all of the popping has stopped.
Making caramel corn is addictive and dangerous. After you make it the first time and discover how easy it really is, it's all to simply to whip up a batch anytime, anywhere, and for any reason. But that's okay if you do that, because this is a judgement free zone.
What If I Like *A LOT* Of Caramel?
Have no fear, m'dear! The way this recipe is written, it's a fairly light coating of the molasses caramel. If you want a more generous coating, simply reduce the amount of popcorn to 10 cups (or even 8 cups) and keep everything else in the recipe the same. Voila! Ultra caramel-y popcorn!
How Should I Store Caramel Popcorn?
Keeping the popcorn away from air and humidity is the key to helping it stay crisp for longer. Store in a high-quality air tight container (like these) or in a Ziploc bag with the zipper seal. If using a bag, make sure to squeeeeeze out all of the air each time you open it up. It should stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 weeks if stored properly.
Can I Freeze The Popcorn?
Yes, you can! You would think that it'd get all soggy in the freezer, but if you package it properly (again... keep the air away from it) it will stay crisp and crunchy. I recommend using freezer-safe bags (not just regular Ziplocs) in particular and squeeze all that air out before freezing. It will stay fresh for up to a year when kept consistently frozen. Using this method is convenient if you want to make a lot of Cracker Jacks ahead of time for use as gifts in the future, or when you have unexpected company and need some quick snacks. The popcorn thaws super fast on the counter, no worries.Print
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