Kicked Up Cracker Jacks

Kicked Up Cracker Jacks
Spicy Caramel Corn with Peanuts

So what did you make for last week's Super Bowl party? 

Besides those deflate gate cupcakes I showed you a few blog posts ago, I also made an addictively delicious batch of Kicked Up Cracker Jacks.  Now don’t get me wrong, Cracker Jacks are good but over the years the peanuts have almost seemed to disappear.  My improved version has infinitely more peanuts than the original. 

Think almost … Peanut Brittle with Popcorn mixed in. 

But besides the extra peanuts I also added some spice to the buttery toffee to fit in with the chili, Buffalo wings, cocktail weenies, and other game day fare I served up for Super Bowl 49. 

What a huge success…

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
I don’t care if I ever get back.

Oh wait that’s baseball.  Well guess what folks?  Baseball season is only a few months away and these Kicked Up Cracker Jacks would be the perfect addition to any tailgate.

Kicked Up Cracker Jacks
Prep time: 20 min
Bake time: 30 min
Servings: 32 half cup servings

  • 16 cups popcorn (I air popped mine)
  • 2 cups cocktail peanuts
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning (gluten free)
  • ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne  (optional to taste)
  • red pepper flakes (optional to taste)
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F (or 121°C) and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper secured at the ends with metal stationary clips.   
  2. In a very large container (mine had a 2 ½ gallon capacity) add the peanuts on top of the popped popcorn  but don’t stir them in. 
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, sea salt, taco seasoning, and cayenne then heat over a medium heat until the mixture dissolves and just starts to boil then allow it to boil undisturbed over a medium low heat for 5 minutes. (use a timer)
  4. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda until well combined.  You’ll see the mixture lighten and increase slightly in volume as the chemical reaction creates air bubbles in the mixture. 
  5. Pour half the caramel mixture over the popcorn and peanuts and stir quickly to combine.  Pour the remainder of the caramel sauce over the popcorn aiming for the uncoated patches of popcorn and stir to combine. 
  6. Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets and spread into an even layers.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes stirring and rotating the pans every 10 minutes. I like to use a silicone spatula to lift and turn the popcorn.
  8. If you don’t feel that your popcorn is spicy enough shake on some red pepper flakes during the turning phase.
  9. When it’s finished baking, give both pans a final stir and allow them to cool completely before breaking it up to suit your tastes. 

Notes:  Be sure to have everything prepped and ready to go before you begin the caramel sauce since you’ll need to move quickly when working with the hot caramel before it hardens.  You won’t have time to run around looking for supplies.  Here's a quick checklist besides having ready and waiting:
  • Baking sheets prepped and lined
  • Spatulas sprayed with nonstick sprayed
  • Oven Preheated

Previous Post Next Post