Tipsy Maple Corn

October 12, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Makes 2 quarts
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. - thirschfeld —thirschfeld

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.
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67 Reviews

Chef D. November 22, 2015
JustPoppin B. April 22, 2014
@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.
Doug H. April 22, 2014
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.
JustPoppin B. March 10, 2014
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.
Koda B. February 1, 2014
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.
lorie B. December 13, 2013
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!
Seana H. November 17, 2012
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!
SlowFoodieBear November 8, 2012
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?
Iris V. April 6, 2012
This recipe is AWESOME! I made it and it was so insanely delicious.
luvbuttah April 2, 2012
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.
EGACA February 5, 2011
I would love to see the picture you mentioned, but I don't see it in the Galley. What am I doing wrong. Thanks.
SenoraBeeps February 4, 2011
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!!
amanda.renee January 27, 2011
I can't wait to makes this!! Even my guy (who isn't a popcorn fan) is excited for this one!
mrso November 4, 2010
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!

thirschfeld November 4, 2010
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!
mrso November 4, 2010
Thanks! I added the pic to the above gallery, number 2 in the line up...I call it "Superfly Snuka Bark"
thirschfeld November 4, 2010
That is an awesome picture thanks for posting it.
nicoleinkitchen October 31, 2010
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!
KitchenLittle October 25, 2010
this sounds delish!
TheThinChef October 25, 2010
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!
theicp October 23, 2010
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.
ChefJune October 22, 2010
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.
ashleychasesdinner October 22, 2010
Congratulations!! This looks delicious, very creative. Good luck!!