Dressed up Cracker Jack

Bryce Harper’s rookie debute at National’s Park, by Scott Ableman (via Flicker)

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never come back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win its a shame.”
~Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Jack Norworth

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and I agree. Baseball diamonds that is. We are nearly a third of the way through the season and I couldn’t be happier. The Washington Nationals are hovering at the top of the National League East, we have one of the best pitching rotations in the sport right now, and we have Bryce Harper – a serious contender for Rookie of the Year.

While things certainly are going well, we still have over 100 games left in the regular season, so things could change in the blink of an eye. Sort of like the caramel used in this  dressed up cracker jack recipe. I highly recommend the use of a candy thermometer whenever you make something like this, and the minute the needle hit 225ºF don’t take your eyes off of the caramel. I know they say a watched pot never boils, but an unwatched pot turn into a burned sticky mess before you realize it.

Dressed up Cracker Jack

2 3.5ounce bags freshly-popped popcorn *
2 cups slivered almonds
8 ounce package dried cherries
For the Carmel
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Kosher salt, optional

*Use a plain, light butter, or even kettle corn flavor. Anything else (like movie theater popcorn) will be too much.

1)     Preheat oven to 250°F . In a very large bowl (or two regular sized bowls)  toss popcorn, almonds, and cherries. Don’t worry if the almonds fall to the bottom, but do try to break up any clumps of cherries that stick together, and spread them evenly throughout the popcorn.

2)     In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter.

3)     Place candy thermometer on the side of the pan and add stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and salt. Make sure to break up any brown sugar lumps you find.

4)     Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature on the candy thermometer his 250°F, or soft ball stage.

5)     Remove from heat and add almond extract and baking soda. The addition of the baking soda will make the mixture foam up a bit, so don’t be surprised.

6)     Quickly pour over popcorn mixture and use large spoons to toss until evenly coated.

7)     Spread popcorn on two rimmed, greased cookie sheets and bake at 250°F, stirring every 15 minutes, for a total of 50 minutes.

8)   Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

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4 responses to “Dressed up Cracker Jack

  1. Ha. No html allowed in comments.

  2. Thanks for the cracker jack recipe. Really clever. I’m glad you like the photo of Bryce Harper, but per the Flickr (not Flicker) terms of use, you need to either leave the photo hosted there (as opposed to copying it and loading it into WordPress), or provide an attribution link back to the photographer’s photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ableman/).

    You can use this code if you just want to use the photo hosted at Flickr:

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