Desserts | Recipes

Homemade Cracker Jacks Recipe

Do you have a snack that whisks you back to the sticky fingers, smudged faces, gap toothed smiles, full bellies, and pure happiness of childhood?

Caramel Corn is one of those foods that immediately takes me back to baseball games, county fairs, rodeos, and lazy afternoons sharing bowls of sticky caramel coated corn with my brothers.

There’s something about caramel corn that is just so irresistible!  It only takes one vanilla scented whiff to make me smile, and awaken the craving!
Homemade Caramel Corn with Sugared Pecans

I vividly remember the first time my dad brought home microwaveable caramel corn.  My brothers and I were blown away.  CARAMEL CORN at HOME!  This was life changing.  I can still smell the slightly oily, slightly buttery, extremely sugary sheet of caramel that we laid over the popcorn and the awe when it somehow melted and became CARAMEL CORN! 

I was feeling a bit nostalgic the other day while looking through pictures, and that got me thinking about being a kid, and one thing led to another and I got stuck on caramel corn. 

I had caramel corn on the brain… there was a chanting of caramel corn — caramel corn– caramel corn playing on a never ending loop in my brain.  Must. Make. Caramel. Corn.  From there it sort of spiraled into making some sort of cracker-jackian treat, but BETTER!

 You see where this is going don’t you?

Caramelized sugars, salty popcorn, sugared pecans… this caramel corn deserves sonnets written about it.  This is the caramel corn that will bring all the neighbors to your yard. 

Look no further, you have your homemade holiday gift. 

This caramel corn with sugared pecans looks like a hot mess, but tastes like pure bliss.  I shared some of this with some friends and neighbors {because, y’all, let’s be honest, if it stayed in the house I’d have eaten it all. ALL, y’all – every single bit}  Each first bite received moans, gasps, and exclamations of “I don’t have to share this with my kids, do I?”

 

Homemade Caramel Corn with Sugared Pecans

One of the best things about this caramel corn (besides how easy it is to make) is that this is a recipe you can make with your kids.  You don’t need special equipment or timers; there aren’t any fancy ingredients.  It’s just simple and delicious.

The hardest part of this whole caramel corn making process, is not eating the entire batch of caramel corn all by yourself. 

Homemade Caramel Corn with Sugared Pecans

 

 

 I have an scrumptious, and deceptively easy sugared pecans recipe – want me to share it with y’all?
 

 

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Homemade Caramel Corn with Sugared Pecans

Homemade Caramel Corn with Sugared Pecans

Simply the best homemade caramel corn, especially with the addition of the sugared pecans.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bag lightly salted microwave popcorn, popped
  • 3 Cups Sugared Pecans

Caramel Sauce

  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar {I prefer dark}
  • 1/2 Cup light Karo Corn Syrup
  • 3/4 Cup butter
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F
  2. In a very large bowl toss together the pecans and popcorn; set aside
  3. Line one very large, or two medium baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside
  4. In a large skillet over medium-hi heat combine: Brown Sugar, Karo Syrup, Butter and Vanilla Extract. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and let simmer about 3 to 5 minutes (this is about 240° on a candy thermometer)
  5. Once the caramel has simmered, remove it from the heat and stir in the baking soda, whisking it so that it becomes completely absorbed. The caramel will lighten and bubble up a bit - no worries, you're good.
  6. At this point, it helps to have a second pair of hands.
  7. Immediately pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn/pecan mixture and stir until thoroughly coated.
  8. Spread this mixture evenly over your lined baking sheets.
  9. ***IF YOU LIKE STICKY, SOFT CARAMEL CORN - YOU ARE DONE!!
  10. If you, like me, want a crispier, crunchy caramel corn - place the caramel corn in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stir the caramel corn and bake another 10 minutes.
  11. At this point, remove the caramel corn from the oven - stir it again and let it cool. The caramel corn hardens as it cools.
  12. Break into pieces to serve and store

Notes

You can turn this into salted caramel corn by adding a good quality sea salt to the hot caramel corn. The longer you bake the caramel corn, the crunchier it will be.
This will last up to 2 weeks sealed in an airtight container, but it won't make it that long. We can't make it last 2 days!

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