Tipsy Maple Corn

By • October 12, 2010 • 66 Comments



Author Notes: Cracker Jacks were invented to be served at the 1893 Worlds Fair in Chicago. Since then there have been about as many variations as boxes sold. Not one to let that stop me I jumped right in and came up with my own version. The pancetta is key for the right salty sweet combo so make sure you add all of it. And do you see what we have to deal with around here during our photo shoots. The drive by grab and go while I am looking through the view finder. - thirschfeldthirschfeld

Food52 Review: We were initially seduced by "tipsy" in the title, but once we tried thirschfeld's recipe, we fell in love with much more than the Jack-Daniels-infused syrup. There are the peanuts (we used dry roasted) and the tiny dots of pancetta -- neither of which stoops to merely accessorizing the corn. The nuts give the treat heft, the pancetta salt and richness. The most important step is the oven-crisping. Be careful not to burn the edges and don't worry if the popcorn isn't totally crisp when you take it out of the oven -- it will continue to firm up as it cools. We loved this as a Halloween treat, but it would be just as delicious paired with a good movie. - A&MA&M

Makes 2 quarts

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons bacon grease, or non flavored vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 cup Jack Daniels
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 3 pieces pancetta, baked until crispy and minced
  1. Place the bacon grease in a 3 quart dutch oven with a lid. Add the kernels and place the covered pot over high heat. Once the popping begins, gently shake the pot to keep the kernels from burning. Once it is done remove the lid and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In another small pot add the Jack Daniels and heat it to burn off the alcohol and reduce it by half. Add the syrup and butter and heat until the butter is melted. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste.
  3. Place the popcorn, peanuts and the pancetta into a large mixing bowl. You want to sprinkle a little of the syrup over the corn a little at a time. You want to stir as you do this. Take your time otherwise the corn will saturate with syrup and collapse and just be gooey.
  4. Once it is coated put it on a sheet tray and spread it out. Then place it in the oven and back in for 20 to 40 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer to crisp that others so just check it and stir it around about every ten minutes.

Tags: bourbon, butter, corn, Maple syrup, peanuts, pepper, popcorn

Comments (66) Questions (1)

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3 months ago JustPoppin Buck

@Doug Hundley - due to the proscribed oven-bake time of 20-40 mins at 350F, you may be able to use raw peanuts and find them done perfectly at the end of the bake. The plus with using raw peanuts is the lack of external oil you'd find with roasted "cocktail" type peanuts. The external oil tends to cause many of the peanuts to separate from the candy coating process, leaving them at the bottom of the bowl instead of well integrated and stuck to the popcorn. Personally, I'd go with raw Spanish peanuts.

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3 months ago Doug Hundley

What kind of peanuts? I'm surprised no one asked. Roasted? Raw? Salted? Maybe in the shell? :) I'm gonna make it w/ roasted b/c a commenter mentioned it, but I'd love some clarification.

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4 months ago JustPoppin Buck

Watching popcorn shrivel and melt is no fun when trying to make caramel corn, but it is pretty common. Try using top quality Mushroom Popcorn kernels instead - they pop into large ball shapes that are much more sturdy and able to withstand the abuse of making caramel corn much better than regular popcorn.

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6 months ago Koda Beardog

I just made this and the popcorn dissolved but it had a great flavor. I made another batch with these changes. 1/2 c brown sugar added with butter, boil 4 minutes not stirring, remove from heat and add 3/4 tsp baking soda. Follow rest of directions as written, Yes, I did just combine this recipe with a classic Carmel corn, it solved the problem.

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7 months ago lorie brand

Another wonderful recipe. I was sprinkling 1T at a time and still watched the popped corn shrivel. Should I be cooling the the syrup before putting it onto the corn? Nevertheless, it turned out great. Ended up adding a bit more popcorn to the end product to get more crunch. This will be an excellent party snack for NYE!

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over 1 year ago Seana Hale

If I'm making this recipe for a party - can I make it the day before and keep it in a air tight container? Looks so fun for a chili party!

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over 1 year ago SlowFoodieBear

Just made this recipe with bourbon instead of whiskey and cashews (because I didn't have any peanuts) and it came out wonderfully! I had never made homemade popcorn before, but this has inspired me to try other flavor combinations. How about rosemary and bacon and garlic? Dos anyone know how you would make a more savory popcorn?

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over 2 years ago Iris VK

This recipe is AWESOME! I made it and it was so insanely delicious.

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over 2 years ago luvbuttah

The flavors were spot on! How do I keep the popcorn from shriveling up to nothing? I did pour very slowly while stirring as advised. Would like to try it again.

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over 3 years ago EGACA

I would love to see the picture you mentioned, but I don't see it in the Galley. What am I doing wrong. Thanks.

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over 3 years ago SenoraBeeps

Made this for a work party today. Delicious and sweet with a bit of spice. Roasted peanuts are the perfect salty touch. Made it last night and let it sit out on the baking sheet-turned out nice and crispy. Thanks thirschfeld!!

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over 3 years ago amanda.renee

I can't wait to makes this!! Even my guy (who isn't a popcorn fan) is excited for this one!

Stringio

over 3 years ago mrso

I made a sweet mistake with this recipe! Used a bit too much of the syrup at once (as warned in the directions:) and was not thrilled with the final texture so I decided to lay the tipsy maple corn over a bed of melted bittersweet chocolate, refrigerate and then break into fun pieces of candy bark! Party goers went crazy for it and it looks so sweet! Below is a link to a photo I took of the final product...ENJOY!

http://www.facebook.com...

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over 3 years ago thirschfeld

I tried to go to the photo but it says content unavailable. You can post it here by clicking on add photo under the picture above. Sounds like a great mistake!

Stringio

over 3 years ago mrso

Thanks! I added the pic to the above gallery, number 2 in the line up...I call it "Superfly Snuka Bark"

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over 3 years ago thirschfeld

That is an awesome picture thanks for posting it.

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over 3 years ago nicoleinkitchen

Pretty tasty! Next time I make it, I will use a higher quailty maple syrup- no Jack (didn't find it necessary) and less time in Oven. I checked after 10min and the batch was already burnt on edges of baking tray. All my fault. Maybe 5 mins next time. I took my time adding the syrup but still shrunk the popcorn to little buds.I will go extra slow next time!

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over 3 years ago KitchenLittle

this sounds delish!

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over 3 years ago TheThinChef

Wow, this sounds SO good! And I just happen to have everything on hand. Guess I know what we'll be having for a snack this afternoon :) yummy!

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over 3 years ago seemeredithcook

When I read this at work yesterday, I decided I was going to go the store, grab some pancetta, peanuts, and Jack Daniels and make this for the Rangers-Yankees game. Then, I kind of lost steam sitting in traffic. Sooo, I substituted bacon, Makers, and pecans since those were the closest things in my house, and it was a big hit. Now, it's 8.30 in the morning and I can't stop munching on it...looks like I'll have to make another batch very soon.

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over 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Back in the day when we could still give the treaters homemade goodies, I used to make my own caramelly popcorn balls. When I saw this version of Caramel Corn, I KNEW it was a winner! I will be definitely making this for my Christmas aperitif. It will be sensational with a glass of Champagne.

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over 3 years ago ashleypiersonchasesdinner

Congratulations!! This looks delicious, very creative. Good luck!!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Bacon fat, butter, and booze, oh my! Congrats on the EP and getting into the finals, thirschfeld. Homer Simpson would be proud.

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almost 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Marvelous twist on Cracker Jack. Planning to make it soon. Not planning to share.

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almost 4 years ago Waverly

Congratulations on being a finalist! Yum.

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almost 4 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations, Tom. This recipe sounds amazing. Adding bourbon and pancetta is certainly one way to get the adults to eat up their veggies - or grains, for that matter.

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over 3 years ago Verdigris

I am a Jack Daniels's so I just have to say JD is NOT a Bourbon. It is a Tennessee Sipping. Whiskey!

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almost 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mr Hirshfeld, what is the approximate weight of the pancetta that you use for this? My friends at the Italian deli will slice it as thick or thin as you like, so I'm not sure how much I should ask for, when I stop there (today . . . . so I can make this for dinner . . . .) ;o)

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

Anywhere from 3 to 4 ounces. I used three pretty thin slices and I always figure they are an ounce each.

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

I actually ran out of my home made pancetta and just finished brining some and it is curing as we speak. Nothing like a nice 4 lb piece of pancetta curing in the pantry. The pantry smells soooooo goooood.

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almost 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Will you post your pancetta recipe? I am the lucky recipient of four gorgeous pork bellies and would love to make pancetta from one of them.

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almost 4 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

I've never been a big fan of caramel corn-like treats, but pancetta...and maple....and bourbon!? And it's a thirschfeld recipe!?!?! I might have to make an exception!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks loves food loves to eat. I don't eat a lot of sweets either but I did really like this mix

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almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Holy Cracker Jack! I thought it would be your jellies, but this stuff looks amazing and addictive. Congratulations!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks gingerroot

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almost 4 years ago lapadia

Congratulations! I make plain old regular caramel popcorn, but I love your twist and will definately be making it the next time around!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks laladia

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almost 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Any recipe that has bacon grease at the top of the ingredient list is OK with me, congratulations on being a finalist! I've never been a big fan of sweet kettle corn, but love caramel corn in almost any form, where would you say this recipe lies on the sweetness continuum? - S

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

It is sweet but I also don't have a huge sweet tooth. I am gonna say chocolate chip cookies with Whitbread Pale Ale kind of sweet.

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almost 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'm making this tonight, and eating it for dinner (with a salad, of course . . . . . and maybe some roasted butternut squash). You think I'm kidding? Think again. ;o)

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almost 4 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations! You specify "bacon grease or non flavored oil". Isn't there a big difference in taste depending on which you use?

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

Thanks, and yes, but here was my thinking. There may be people who don't want to use bacon grease and in that light I think non flavored would be good as opposed to using olive oil.

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almost 4 years ago gluttonforlife

Just checked back in after a long hiatus to find that Thirshfeld is still going strong--this looks positively addictive!!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

I have been wondering where you where. I just made the chicken liver pate, again, love it.

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almost 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats thirschfeld!! This looks really amazing!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks ChezSusanne

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almost 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations! All your recipes for this challenge looked great.

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks drb.

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Pretty addictive-sounding, I'd say!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

scarfed and gone within minutes of being out of the oven, and not by me for a change.

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almost 4 years ago WinnieAb

Awesome! Congrats Tom...knew for sure you'd end up in the finals, just didn't know which recipe it would be!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks Winnie

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almost 4 years ago cheese1227

I see the evolution of your bacon greased popcorn here. Perhaps just what Darwin had in mind?

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

LOL

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almost 4 years ago cheese1227

Damn, I'm going toe to toe with a thirshfeld recipe. I can't catch a break.

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almost 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh lordy - caramel corn is one of my major weaknesses. Have to try this and have to give most to the neighbors in order to save myself!!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

let me know what your neighbors think too

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almost 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You totally had me at the bourbon. Mr. T loves popcorn and eats it (plain!) often. I think I'll show him how grown ups do it right. Bourbon + maple + pancetta. Yeah!! ;o)

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

You know we don't eat a lot of popcorn but this disappeared from the tray really quickly

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almost 4 years ago Midge

I don't even really like popcorn but I'm pretty sure the maple/bourbon/pancetta combo would win me over.

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

especially the bourbon

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

meaning thats all it would take to win me over.

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almost 4 years ago Bevi

I could eat that whole tray all by myself. Wow.

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

Problem is we just about did eat the whole tray.

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almost 4 years ago TiggyBee

Fantastic!! I Love this!!

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almost 4 years ago thirschfeld

thanks TiggyBee