Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
I have such wonderful memories of eating Cracker Jacks as a kid and finding a prize at the bottom of the box! The candy coated popcorn and peanuts were also just as good as the prize.
The flavor that makes Cracker Jacks unique from classic caramel corn is the molasses syrup added in.
Cracker Jack was introduced by F.W. Rueckheim & Bro at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The
confection started as popcorn and peanuts covered in molasses, but people didn’t like the stickiness. The Rueckheim brothers then came up with an improved recipe that made
the molasses coating crispy and dry. Legend notes that the name "Cracker Jack" came into use when a customer who tried the product, exclaimed "That’s really a cracker - Jack!" Actually
the words "cracker jack" was a slang expression on those days, meaning "something very pleasing." Learn more about the
History of Cracker Jacks and the Legends of Popcorn.
Below is a copycat recipe that comes very close to the original and just as hard to stop eating!
Savory and Sweet Snack Food Recipes
which includes more popcorn treats.
Homemade Cracker Jacks Recipe:
Savory and Sweet Snack Food,
Yields: makes many
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
24 to 25 cups (2 large batches) popped corn*
3 to 4 cups Spanish or roasted peanuts (optional)
2 cups firmly-packed dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup salted butter
2 tablespoons molasses
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
* Remember to remove any un-popped popcorn kernels.
Popcorn can be air popped to reduce fat or cooked in oil (your choice).
Cooking in oil will actually help the caramel corn separate easier to reduce clumping.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Lightly butter or use non-stick cooking spray in a large roasting pan.
Place the popped popcorn and peanuts in the prepared roasting pan. Place in the oven while the Caramel Sauce is cooking.
Prepare Caramel Sauce: In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and
molasses. Stir until smooth and melted. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly until the caramel sauce begins to boil. Set a
timer to boil for 5 minutes only, stirring occasionally during this phase. Let boil until the time is up or the temperature reaches 235 degrees F.
cooking thermometer. Immediately remove from heat and carefully stir in the vanilla extract, baking soda,
and salt. Mixture will begin to boil violently and may spit out hot candy! Using a long-handled wooden spoon, stir down the mixture
until boiling subsides.
is the type of cooking thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers
asking what cooking thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the
Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. Originally designed for professional users, the
Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer is used by chefs all over the world. To learn more about this excellent
thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined:
Caramel Mixture Melted Together
Violent Boiling of Caramel Mixture
Stirring Together the Caramel Corn
Pour the hot caramel syrup over popcorn and
peanuts, stirring to evenly coat. Use a non-stick cooking
spray on the spoon to help prevent the caramel corn from sticking to the spoon.
Place the roasting pan, with the coated popcorn and peanuts, in
the oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring every 20
minutes. The Caramel Corn is done when the caramel sauce has
hardened into a crisp shell around every piece and no longer dripping
to bottom of the pan.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, break apart any large clumps with your hands.
Store in airtight containers or re-sealable bags.
You might also like:
This classic caramel corn is so satisfying and
delicious! Your children and/or grandchildren will
label you the "best" Mom or Grandma when you serve this
to them. Makes a great snack and also wonderful gifts.
Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
If you love cheese and popcorn, here is a good salty and
cheesy snack! The secret to cheddar cheese popcorn is to
use processed powdered cheese. Cheddar Cheese Popcorn is
also used in the famous Chicago Mix Popcorn recipe.
Chicago Mix Popcorn
A Chicago Mix is known
to locals as caramel and cheddar cheese flavored popcorn
kernels mixed up together creating an addictive sweet
and salty snack combination. The Chicago Mix is a cheese
and caramel combo that everyone loves the minute they
These old-time popcorn
balls are great anytime, but they're especially fun to
enjoy at Halloween or Christmas time.