Sunday, December 23, 2012

Caramel Corn and Cracker Jacks

I don't know about you but now that we're really on vacation it feels like we've all let out a deep breath and relaxed a little bit. I'm thankful my shopping is done, hopefully after today my sewing will be too :-) We made a little caramel corn last night. Then we made home made cracker jacks, which are a new recipe for me and so so yummy. Caramel on the left, cracker jacks on the right.
I have this sweet air popper that I borrowed from my mom. In case you can't tell, it has been around since the 70's - what are the odds? I know. But it works great! Especially for this recipe. I've read other recipes where people used plain microwave popcorn and that works fine too.
I don't think this caramel corn recipe is unusual - I found several on AllRecipes that were very close. This is the one my mom used so this is the one I always make. My guess is that this is the one that was printed on the back of the corn syrup (or Boy Scout popcorn) back in the day. It also makes me happy to use that big roasting pan more than once a year!
The Caramel Corn is lighter and so buttery, brown sugary yummy - very addictive. I will warn you that sometimes after you bake this it gets a little grainy, might be brought to a boil too fast, might be the humidity, might be a oven baking hotter than you think. It just happens. Candy is really tricky. BUT this is just a texture issue, not a taste one - it's still delicious and no one will care at all as they shovel it in. Just wanted to warn you ahead of time so you don't get nuts about it.
The Cracker Jack variation is darker - can you guess why? Molasses! Plus I added some Spanish peanuts to this mixture. The peanuts never really get stuck to the popcorn but they're still a nice addition.
 Caramel Corn 
6 quarts of popcorn, pop then put a large non-stick (or greased) roasting pan
preheat oven to 250 degrees (if your oven runs hot then 225)

1 C butter, melted
2 C brown sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 tsp salt

In a large saucepan (mine is 3.5 qt) bring to a rolling boil. Boil 5 minutes, I stir constantly. Some recipes say to not stir at all. That makes me way too nervous. So it's up to you, stir or don't stir. Then after 5 minutes of boiling, remove from the heat and add:

1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

The vanilla will give off some steam and the soda will make the mixture foam up like crazy. You have to stir stir stir and then get that foamy stuff poured over your popcorn quickly. Stir to coat then get it in your oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

I let cool in the roasting pan and it works out fine. Some recipes I read said to pour it out onto cookie sheets to let cool. I read that as more dishes to wash so I just skip that. Again, your choice :-)

Store in an air-tight container.

Cracker Jack Variation
6 qts popcorn
1 1/2 C Spanish peanuts

1 C butter, melted
2 C brown sugar
1/3 C light corn syrup
1/3 C molasses

1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp soda

Cooking directions are all the same :-)

Hope everyone is having a good weekend as we wind our way down to the big day!

2 comments:

  1. Oh yummy. I have never tried to make caramel corn, but I sure do like it! Good for you!

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  2. Totally making this tonight! You brought back childhood memories for me, my mom used to make this every Christmas. I even have the same hot air popper from her in my pantry! I will officially need to diet after the new year, lol.

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