File this one under “who knew!” Today is National Popcorn Day. While I’d love to tell you about the origins of the holiday, it remains a mystery that even the Popcorn Board hasn’t solved. And more strange is that, though this holiday falls in January, National Popcorn Month is October.
I don’t know about you, but this all sounds a little suspicious! (Ahem, totally and utterly made up for no good reason.) A little silly, too. But, hey, not so much that I won’t celebrate. Because who doesn’t love popcorn? Or, even better, caramel popcorn! Or, THE BEST, homemade Cracker Jacks!
This recipe from NPR, is easy and super tasty. I like to substitute almonds for peanuts (which, actually, makes this more like homemade Poppycock than Cracker Jacks). Either way, it’s a fun way to celebrate the mystery that is National Popcorn Day!
Homemade Cracker Jacks
1/2 c unpopped popcorn (this will make the end result super-caramelly; if you want it less sticky, use 2/3 c unpopped popcorn)
4 tsp olive oil (5-6 teaspoons for 2/3 cup popcorn)
1 brown paper sandwich bag
1 piece of adhesive tape
1/2 c shelled peanuts (Spanish if you have them, or almonds if you prefer)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
1 Tbsp molasses (you can use 2 Tbsp if you love molasses)
1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pop the popcorn. Use your preferred method or: put the popcorn in a brown paper bag (if you’re using 2/3 cup, you might want to split it into two paper bags), pour in 4 teaspoons of olive oil (or more for the larger amount), and close the bag with a piece of tape. Heat it on high in the microwave for 3 minutes. Put popped popcorn in a bowl.
2. Add the nuts to the popcorn.
3. Make the caramel: Heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses and salt in a pan on the stove until the butter is melted and the sugar is smooth and not grainy anymore. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and peanuts, stirring well. Pour it all onto a cookie sheet and place in oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice. (It will be gooey and wet.)
4. Let the caramel popcorn air dry until crisp.
(The cookie sheet will look dauntingly dirty, but hot water will easily erase all traces of sticky caramel sauce.)