ADVOCATE-TESTED RECIPE

Homemade Cracker Jack

Makes 3 quarts. Recipe is by Cynthia L. Nobles.

3 quarts popped corn

11/2 cups toasted, shelled peanuts

6 tbls. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tbl. white vinegar

11/2 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 tbls. molasses

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a half sheet pan or large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine popped corn and peanuts in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses and salt. Return to heat, bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, over medium-low heat until mixture reaches 250 F, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Carefully pour syrup over popcorn and peanuts and stir until syrup is evenly distributed. Spread popcorn in sheet pan and bake 15 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and stir well, making sure to scrape up and blend in any accumulated syrup. Spread popcorn evenly again in pan and allow to cool. Break into pieces.