This is chef Katie Button's sweet and savory take on the classic American snack, Cracker Jack. Slideshow: Make-Ahead Snacks
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and shake the saucepan to coat the kernels with oil. Cook over moderate heat until the popping slows to several seconds between pops. Remove from the heat and wait 30 seconds, then pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Add the peanuts, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and cayenne and toss well to coat the popcorn.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of oil with the sugar, salt and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until a light amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss quickly with spoons to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts. Spread the popcorn mixture on the baking sheet in an even layer and let cool completely. Break into bite-size pieces.
The caramel corn can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.