Popcorn Cracker Jacks

Popcorn Cracker Jacks
Andy Lyons
  • Yield: 10 cups


3tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2cup popcorn kernels
1cup Spanish peanuts, husks removed
1cup light brown sugar
1.2cups corn syrup
4tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and 2 popcorn kernels. Cook over high heat until the kernels pop, then add the remaining popcorn, cover and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook until the kernels stop popping, shaking the pan often. Discard any unpopped kernels and spread out the popcorn on a large, deep, nonstick, rectangular cake pan or lasagna casserole dish (try a 14-by-10-by-4-inch nonstick cake pan). If you use a pan that isn’t nonstick, grease it with butter or nonstick cooking spray first. Toss the popcorn with the peanuts and place the pan in the preheated oven to keep warm.
  2. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook until the temperature of the candy reaches 260F to 275F on the candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.
  3. Working quickly, remove the popcorn and peanuts from the oven and pour the hot syrup mixture in a fine stream over the popcorn to cover it evenly. Using a nonstick spatula, carefully toss to coat. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts. Remove the pan from the oven and let the mixture cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight vinegar container. The Cracker Jacks will keep for up to 10 days.

Note: 1 tablespoon of popcorn kernels yields just over 1 cup of popped corn.

Excerpted from Brown Sugar: Short Stack Vol. 12, © 2014 by Libbie Summers. Reproduced by permission of All Day Press.