HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Homemade Cracker Jacks

Every time we go to a ballgame, the hubby buys Cracker Jacks and, though the kids love 'em, they are just so crummy compared to when I was a kid- they had lots of peanuts then and the prized were actually interesting...I've done an internet search and there are lots of recipes for homemade cracker jacks, but they're all so different. Some are baked, some are stovetop, some use honey, some use molasses (and then you break them apart w/ a spoon) etc.

Anyone make a good crackerjackslike caramel corn w/ peanuts that would survive a trip to (but not from) a ballgame?

Thanks! You're the best!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. TV Diner show on NECN had an all kids program thi am. The chef from Bonfire made crackerjacks on the show and they gave the recipe. I assume if you log onto NECN and TV Diner you will find the recipe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: emilief

      I checked out the TV Diner website, but couldn't find the recipe. Thanks, though.

    2. I have a recipe that uses a heavy foil turkey roasing pan for baking. You may not want to 'goo' up a good pan for this.

      3 qts popped corn
      3 c mixed unsalted nuts/seeds of your choice
      1 c brown sugar
      1/2 c DARK Karo (corn syrup)
      1/2 c butter
      1/2 t vanilla
      1/2 t salt
      1/2 t b soda

      Combine popcorn and nuts in large foil turkey roasting pan. Place in a 250 degree oven to keep warm.

      Prepare glaze by combining sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a large heavy pot. Stir constantly till at a boil over med heat. Continue to boil 5 minutes w/o stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla then baking soda.

      Remove roasting pan from oven and drizzle the glaze evenly over the corn mixture. Stir well with a metal spoon to coat evenly. Return to oven, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Cool and break apart. Store tighly covered.

      This is so good. Dare I say better (definitely fresher!)than CrackerJacks?

      Make it for your next potluck or football game party. Makes about 4 qts.

      7 Replies
      1. re: toodie jane

        This sounds great. A friend made a similar recipe and says that the baking soda is essential for making cracker jacks. I guess she tried quite a few recipes before she found one with baking soda.

        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

          I know this is probably a dense question, but what does the baking soda do? I love these recipes, by the way. Will have to try some!

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I think it made the coating a little lighter in consistency and easier to spread on the pan.

        2. re: toodie jane

          Great! Thanks so much. And I'll bet that long cooking time makes a fairly non-sticky product.

          I'll make it for our next game!

          1. re: toodie jane

            I make a maple-pecan glazed popcorn that puts cracker jack/poppycock to shame...cribbed it from the back page of Gourmet mag a couple years ago. Can't recall the specifics; I'm sure it's still on their website, but the coating was a mixture of maple syrup, butter, maybe a little brown sugar, some vanilla cooked together to boiling for a while, then poured over popcorn & pecans.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              Is this it?

              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

              Reviewers suggest that it may be more like Fiddlefaddles or Screaming Yellow Zonkers....

              1. re: MollyGee

                Yes, that's it exactly. It doesn't have brown sugar after all...I probably added vanilla if the recipe doesn't include it. Don't chop the pecans too small; much better with smallish pecan halves left intact. The maple-butter flavor is really great...this is an SEC football-watching staple at my house.

          2. My recipe varies a little bit (no nuts due to allergies at my house) but the baking technique is exactly the same and when I take it to work, it just vanishes. I'm convinced that the long baking time at the lower temp is what makes it so good.

            1. does the actual popcorn varitey matter?

              3 Replies
              1. re: rumgum

                Reading the recipe gave me the idea to make some, so I just did!

                Popcorn variety? I happened to have some organically grown popping corn and it popped up huge in the air popper. No idea what variety. I'd say do a trial and use a big, fluffy one.

                Also noticed that I tended to underestimate the volume of popped corn, oops, and fell short of the glaze, so I mixed up another batch, (takes 5 min) and spread it on the mix. I doubled the vanilla the second time.

                The heavy foil roasting pan works very well. Light weight and easy to handle.

                I used a wide silicon spatula to turn the corn to get the glaze evenly distributed. Also to scoop up the nuts which fall to the pan bottom. As the mix cooled down a bit I used my tough old (gardener's)hands to mix.

                The mix is now in the oven for about the final 15 min. It hardens as it cools. Prety yummy warm!

                Started to think of other spicings--cayenne or ancho powder might be nice. Also cinnamon. Can anyone come up with other flavorings? Cocoa maybe? cinnamon, cayenne AND cocoa? h-m-m-m....

                1. re: toodie jane

                  Wow! How was it once it cooled down?

                  1. re: MollyGee

                    so good I packed most of it for my husband to take to work to get it out of the house!

                    "Crackerjacks! its not just for breakfast anymore!" (goes really well with a hot cup of strong coffee!)