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Cracker Jack look-alike cupcakes are a super-fun food craft

Diana Johnson is a professional recipe developer, food photographer, freelance writer and cooking instructor. She's also a mother who believes that kids can love healthy food, and that no child should have to experience food insecurity. ...

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

These cute treats look like cups full of Cracker Jack, but they're actually cupcakes topped with marshmallows and peanuts.

Cracker Jack cupcakes would be perfect for a circus- or baseball-themed birthday party, and they're simple enough that kids can help make them.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Start by baking a pan of 12 cupcakes. I used a white cake mix, but you can really use any color and flavor you want.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, you will need to create your "popcorn." You will use 20 to 25 marshmallows per cupcake. Start by snipping a little cut into the marshmallow.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Rotate it, and make a second little cut.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Rotate, and snip 1 more time.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Squish the marshmallow between your fingers, and you now have what looks like a piece of popcorn! If young kids are helping with this, they can simply pull apart some marshmallows into 2 pieces and stick them back together.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Before you frost your cupcakes, print and cut out your wrappers, and tape each one together, using a cupcake as a model to fit them around. Then remove the wrappers so they don't get messy as you decorate.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Frost the cupcakes, and cover each one in 20 to 25 marshmallow "popcorn" pieces.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Tuck 6 to 8 peanuts per cupcake in among the marshmallows.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Now the final, most important step to achieve the Cracker Jack look is to paint your popcorn with "caramel." Use a clean paintbrush to brush molasses onto the marshmallows and peanuts. Make sure to apply lightly so you don't make the marshmallows soggy.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

The friends I served these to were shocked that they weren't actually made with Cracker Jack. The wrapper helps with the effect, but you could really use any dessert cup or cupcake wrapper if you don't want to take the extra time to cut these out. Either way, these cupcakes are sure to impress.

These Cracker Jack look-alikes are actually cupcakes in disguise

Cracker Jack look-alike cupcakes

These cute cupcakes look just like cups of Cracker Jack. If your molasses is super thick, you can thin it out with a few drops of water, but make sure the paintbrush you use to apply the molasses has not been used for anything toxic.

Yields 12

Prep time: 1 hour | Bake time: 20 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients and supplies:

  • 12 cupcakes (I used a box cake mix, or buy premade unfrosted cupcakes)
  • 1 tub white frosting
  • 1 large bag mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup shelled, unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • Clean scissors
  • Clean paintbrush
  • 12 decorative cupcake wrappers

Directions: 

  1. Spread the top of each cupcake with frosting. You don't quite need to frost it to the edges, because they will be covered by the cupcake wrappers.
  2. Cut 1 to 3 snips into each marshmallow, and give them a squish so they look like popped corn. You will need about 300 marshmallows.
  3. Decorate each cupcake with the "popcorn," and then tuck some peanuts in among the marshmallows.
  4. Lightly brush molasses all over the marshmallows and peanuts.
  5. Place each cupcake in a decorative wrapper.

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