Saturday, February 28, 2009

Homemade Cracker Jack

The Altitude Adjustment Section
Sometimes you just can’t beat old school, this is definitely the case by the reaction I got at Artfeast when distributing 500 individual bags of Cracker Jack last week. There is a reason people have been eating Cracker Jack since 1893. One man said to me when I offered him some: ”If it's not stale, it's not Cracker Jack.” Sorry, mine was fresh.

3 quarts air-popped popcorn (made with my new favorite appliance)
3 cups unsalted peanuts (or mixed unsalted nuts if you are feeling fancy)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark Karo syrup (I went upscale and used Steen’s cane syrup from New Orleans)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine popcorn and nuts in a foil roasting pan (this gets sticky so it might be easier just to throw it away when done). Place in a 250-degree oven to keep popcorn warm. Prepare the glaze by combining brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a large heavy pot. Stir constantly till at a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and add the vanilla then the baking soda. This will bubble up, so be careful. Now take warmed popcorn out of oven and drizzle the glaze evenly over the corn and stir well with a metal spoon to coat all over and return to the oven. Cook a total of 1 hour stirring every 20 minutes. Cool and break apart. Store in a tightly covered tin.