Last weekend, Marc Summers showed how the original cracker jacks recipe was made on Unwrapped. I love Unwrapped. The kids enjoy seeing their favorite candy come down the conveyor belt and get packaged, and Adam and I enjoy hearing about whatever "secret" ingredient makes the candy or snack special.
I also really like Marc Summers, because it reminds me of coming home after school to my grandparent's house and watching Double Dare. I really wanted to be on Double Dare. My brother and I would set up makeshift obstacle courses to "practice" in case we were ever on the show. We never applied or filled out any paperwork---- so I don't know how we thought we would magically appear in the TV, but that didn't' stop us from trying.
Anyhow, last weekend while watching Unwrapped, I muttered "I could make that" as Marc narrated the ingredients list for cracker jacks. That's all it took for Adam and the kids to pop up and run off to the store, stopping at my parents to pick up an air popped popcorn machine.
I love how my parents keep everything so I don't have to.
--an air popped popcorn machine (or you could do the brown bag method--do not add the oil or salt. I forgot about the brown bag method last week, but it would work if you don't have access to a popcorn machine.)
--1 cup brown sugar
--1/2 cup light corn syrup
--1-2 cups peanuts
--1 t kosher salt
--1 cup popcorn kernels
--parchment paper or Release foil
--put the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and butter into your crockpot and set on high.
Get out a few mixing bowls in preparation for the popcorn coating. Spread out a bunch of Release foil or parchment paper on your counter top or the floor so the popcorn will have room to cool and dry. I used the floor.
You are melting and heating the corn syrup mixture until everything is hot and bubbly. This will take 1-3 hours, depending upon the size of your crockpot and your altitude. Check on your concoction after 45 minutes, and every 15 min thereafter. The EHow article said to use a candy thermometer and that it is done at 250 degrees---I don't like candy thermometers, so eyeballed it.
When the candy coating looks hot, bubbly and everything is completely melted, mix in your popcorn and peanuts. If you don't have a big enough crockpot for everything to fit in nicely, put the popcorn in a large mixing bowl and carefully ladle the hot syrup over the top and mix with wooden spoons. You may need to do a couple of batches.
It is okay if it doesn't look "perfect"--this is just for fun!
Spread the popcorn on the Release foil or parchment paper and sprinkle with the Kosher salt. Taste--depending on how salty your peanuts were, you may need less or more salt.
We ate so much of this that we didn't eat any dinner!
It was very, very good. And very, very sticky.
We weren't smart enough to seal it up in an airtight container overnight, so it went all stale and funky over night.
the exact same way the real cracker jacks does!