I frequently joke that the Texas Rangers baseball team is partially responsible for my birth. It’s funny because it’s true.You see, my parents’ first date was to a Texas Rangers baseball game in May of 1981. When they entered the ballpark, my mom told my dad that she needed a program. He bought her one, assuming that she wanted a souvenir, but he realized he was wrong when she pulled out a pencil and began properly scoring the game on the grid in the middle. My dad had never met a woman who knew how to do that. Now, three daughters later, he knows four.My parents were married just under two years after that first game and have had season tickets for the Texas Rangers ever since. It will come as no surprise that they raised children who love baseball, too. All of us cheer for the Rangers with great enthusiasm, even when they are terrible, which has been a lot. But. But! Tomorrow is Opening Day at Globe Life Park—the last at that ballpark—so we all have hope that the next 162 games will take our team somewhere great. The stats are not exactly in our favor, but it’s hard *not* to have hope on the day before the season starts. I will likely be singing a different tune when the playoffs begin at the end of September, but until then, I’m going to root-root-root for my home team. If they don’t win, it’s a shame 🎶 I won’t ask you to buy me peanuts and Cracker Jack though, because Cracker Jack already has peanuts in it—why would I want more?—and because I’ve started making this Sriracha Cracker Jack, which is the perfect accompaniment for watching Texas Rangers games from the comfort of my Brooklyn bedroom.This stuff is so good, y’all. It’s the classic Cracker Jack combination of crispy popcorn and crunchy peanuts, but with a good dose of sriracha added to the traditional molasses caramel coating!I used my Salty Maple Caramel Corn recipe as a jumping-off point for this recipe, swapping the maple for honey and a touch of molasses, reducing the sweetener overall, and adding 1/4 cup of salty, spicy, garlicky sriracha to the mix. Yesssss.The caramel comes together in five minutes before being tossed with freshly-popped popcorn and salted peanuts and baked at a low temperature for an hour. Once the Sriracha Cracker Jack has cooled, the coating will be glossy and glass-like—this makes for super satisfying munching.Sriracha Cracker Jack is crispy, crunchy, sweet, spicy, and a little savory—the best of all snack food worlds. It’s perfect for watching baseball, of course, but I think it’d be a great snack for parties and road trips, too.Really, anytime you choose to whip up a batch, it’s guaranteed to be a home run ⚾️
Sriracha Cracker Jack
makes 12 cups
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups roasted salted peanuts
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup mild honey
1 tablespoon molasses (not blackstrap)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced into 8 pieces
3 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sriracha hot chili sauce
Pour oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add 4-5 popcorn kernels. Heat over medium heat until kernels begin to pop. Add remaining kernels and cover with lid, leaving it a little bit ajar. Jostle constantly while popcorn pops, until pops are 2-3 seconds apart. Do not burn.
Remove pot from heat and pour popcorn into a bowl. Measure popcorn to ensure there are 12 cups. Set aside excess or pop more, as needed to meet the 12-cup requirement for this recipe. Add peanuts to popcorn.
Preheat oven to 250F. Heavily grease two rimmed sheet pans, your largest mixing bowl, and 2 silicone spatulas with oil or non-stick spray. Put popped popcorn in the bowl. Set aside.
Without stirring or jostling, combine sugar, honey, molasses, salt, butter and water in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda; mixture will bubble up. Stir in sriracha.
Pour sriracha caramel over popcorn and use greased spatulas to toss together. Do not touch any coated pieces that fly out of the bowl—the molten sugar will burn you. Wait til they cool a bit before picking them up.
Divide coated popcorn/peanuts among sheet pans. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Line a sheet pan or a surface with parchment. Pour baked Cracker Jack on top. Let cool to room temperature. Break up clumps. Serve.
Leftover Sriracha Cracker Jack will keep in a ziptop bag for a couple of weeks.