For anyone who grew up loving Cracker Jack, Crunch 'n Munch, or Fiddle Faddle, our caramel-coated peanut-popcorn balls are like edible time machines. A little baking soda in the caramel keeps it light and lacy, and baking the balls after forming helps set and dry them, so they end up crisp, not tacky. Wrap them in plain parchment and striped waxed paper for the full bonbon effect. 

Martha Stewart Living, December 2021

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Credit: Justin Walker

Recipe Summary

prep:
25 mins
total:
1 hr 10 mins
Yield:
Makes 14
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 225°F. Place popcorn in a large bowl. Melt butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup; cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil without stirring. Cook until mixture registers 245° to 248° on a candy thermometer, 2 to 4 minutes.

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  • Turn off heat; stir in molasses, salt, and baking soda to completely combine. Keep stirring until mixture turns very foamy and lightens in color and bubbles up quite a bit.

  • Pour hot syrup over popcorn mixture and immediately sprinkle peanuts over top; stir until all kernels and nuts are coated. Let stand briefly. Meanwhile, put on a pair of rubber gloves and spray them with cooking spray (this isn't required, but it will help protect your hands from the heat, and it's important to work while the mixture is still warm).

  • Working quickly, use your hands to form mixture into balls, each about 1 cup in volume (if you have a 1-cup scoop, use that!). Transfer balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all have been formed, go back and use your hands to press them into tighter balls, so they really hold together. Let stand 15 minutes.

  • Bake 45 minutes. (If one or two balls fall apart during baking, let cool briefly, then re-form.) Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

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