This dish is inspired by my youth when I used to eat boxes of Cracker Jack’s as often as I could. I replaced the signature caramel coating found in Cracker Jacks with grade b maple syrup and a liberal sprinkling of sweet and smoky Piment d’Ville - our California grown Espelette chile - to give it a spicy kick.
Spicy Cracker Jack's!
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
1 Tbps Piment d'ville
Heat the oil and kernels in a 5 quart Dutch oven over high heat until smoking hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high, cover and continue to cook until the kernels start to pop. Lower heat to medium and cook until the popping slows down to just a few pops every ten seconds. Pour popcorn into a large mixing bowl.
In the same Dutch oven add the butter and cook until melted, about 1 minute. Add the peanuts and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the piment. Toss your popcorn in the maple mixture and eat. Watch out it is extremely hot at this point.
Add flaky salt at the end for the perfect finish. Also try this with smoky and spicy Piment d'Ville for a different flavor profile!