Baseball season is finally here. And while my husband and I may not agree on which team to root for—I'm from Boston and he's from New York—we both love Cracker Jacks. Along with hot dogs, giant pretzels, and soft-serve ice cream served in cap-shaped cups, Cracker Jacks are a quintessential ballpark snack food.
Since it's still a bit too cold out to sit in the stands, I decided to create a homemade version of Cracker Jack, perfect for devouring on the couch while watching the game. I wanted to include all the traditional ingredients (popcorn, caramel, and peanuts), while kicking the flavors up a few notches.
My favorite part of Cracker Jacks has always been the sweet, salty peanuts. If you want to go one step further, candy the peanuts with a mixture of sugar, chili powder, cayenne, and flaky salt before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. The peanuts harden into brittle-like clumps in the oven, which are then broken into bite-sized pieces and tossed with the popcorn and caramel.
Each little peanut nugget is an addictive combination of spicy, sweet, and salty flavors, covered with caramel to boot. Just try to stop after one handful.
If you have an air popper, by all means use that to make your popcorn. I don't have one, so I made my popcorn the old-fashioned way, in a big pot on the stove. A half cup of kernels popped in two tablespoons of vegetable oil should give you just the right amount for this recipe. It yields approximately 12 cups of nutty, crackly, irresistible caramel corn. It will keep for two to three weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.