White Chocolate Raspberry Crescents
Updated September 21, 2014
tube Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent rolls
cup white chocolate chips
Gently mash a half-pint of raspberries with a fork. Spoon a small amount of the raspberry mixture into the top half of your crescent dough.
Sprinkle a few white chocolate chips on top, then roll the crescent and seal the ends of the dough with a fork.
Bake in an oven preheated to 425°F for 10-12 minutes.
Stir a half teaspoon of almond extract into a half cup of Pillsbury™ vanilla icing. Spoon the icing on top of the warm rolls. Top with sliced almonds.
Ronnie's raspberry crescents
Many hands help make holiday cookies. That’s true when you’re gathered with family and friends and vats of colored icing. It’s true when you’re running a contest for cookie recipes, when it takes thousands of readers, dozens of cooking school students and five hungry judges to choose the best. And, it turns out, that’s even true if you’re one of the winners.
This year’s Holiday Cookie Bake-Off attracted nearly 200 recipe entries. More than 7,000 votes were cast by readers on our Facebook page. We took the top 50 vote-getters to the folks at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and students and faculty there baked them all off.
L.A. Times Food Editor Russ Parsons, Deputy Food Editor Betty Hallock and Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter spent one Saturday morning tasting every single one along with Lachlan Sands, dean of Le Cordon Bleu, and one of his students, Katherine Berg.
Last Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen was jammed with happy bakers and their helpers for the photo shoot for today’s cover story. But none of them was happier than Nicole Cleghorn, who flew in for the event from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Her husband is a staff sergeant stationed there, and she follows the Times Food section online. So when she learned that her white chocolate turtle cookies were chosen among our 10 favorites in this year’s contest, she planned to email us a photograph.
But then her friends came through. One, whose husband travels a lot on business, donated enough airline miles to get her a free ticket. Five others chipped in enough cash for a couple of nights in a hotel. And so Cleghorn was able to join the nine local winners in the Test Kitchen.
She brought a box of intricately decorated cookies she’d made at home and marveled at the turn of events. “That hotel!” she said. “My goodness, it has glass elevators and robes in every room.”
White Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries
Okay first thing &ndash I am apologizing for not being a good blogger this week. Oh my goodness, I have had a long busy week! Currently we are moving one room to the upstairs bedroom. Since my oldest daughter has moved out to her own place, I am turning her bedroom into an office/craft room. So many plans and I want to do them on the cheap but chic side! This project has forced me to spring clean and throw things away. The things we keep. Anyway, between that and my summer classes it&rsquos been nonstop. I hope to put pictures of the room makeover on a post soon!
The recipe (if you can even call it that) for today came out of my need for chocolate and I had a few raspberries and blueberries to eat up. It&rsquos simple math, people. Fruit + Chocolate = Heaven. Well, in my tummy it does. This is a great snack and I&rsquom telling you if you use DARK chocolate, you can call it a healthy snack&helliphehehe. Whatever you need to tell yourself, just treat yourself to this delicious snack. It&rsquos SO simple. I mean easy peasy!
I had trouble coming up with the recipe name but when I told a friend I was eating raspberries with white chocolate, she thought I dipped the fruit into white chocolate &ndash not that doesn&rsquot sound divine because it does. I sent her a picture and her response was &ndash &ldquoYou stuffed the chip into the raspberry, genuis!&rdquo &ndash and then the name was easy.
White Chocolate Raspberry Crescents - Recipes
Every now and again I crave a little sweet, typically after I have lunch during the work week. I'm very fortunate that I work for a company that lets me work at home full time, so when the mood strikes, I can just run to my kitchen, grab a treat and run back to my desk and computer.
Usually what I want is a cookie. Two cookies. I love cookies. Cookies are such a delightful, portable treat, not messy to eat and satisfy my sweet tooth without overindulgence.
I made these Raspberry Chocolate Crescents the same day I made the Apricot Power Bars (posted below). Poor Ole Sweetie-Pi has a nut sensitivity so he can't go near anything with nuts, and it just seems unfair that I should have something sweet and he doesn't. He loves chocolate, will help me eat any boxes of chocolate I may get for gifts at the holidays, will treat himself to a candy bar after enduring the trauma of a Wal-Mart shopping trip. He will stash bags of chocolate candies in the bread box.
Word from the galley is that these cookies are among the best cookies I've made.
Now, I'm glad Ole Sweetie-Pi liked them, and I would make them again for him, but I thought they were "just okay." I can't explain exactly what I didn't like them as much as I thought I would. I mean, really, chocolate and raspberry!
I think the chocolate chips in the famous yellow bag were not the best choice, perhaps a better chocolate, such as the Ghirardelli or even those little Dove candies would have been better for this classy little cookie. I also used a raspberry jelly, and I think a raspberry preserve or jam might have been better. The jelly liquefied and leaked out my cookies. I liked the cookie portion of it it has a slight tang from the cream cheese, and it is nice and tender.
I would love to serve these at a tea party on a tray with other little sweets.
Raspberry Chocolate Croissants
- Author: Rebecca Neidhart
- Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, divided
- Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes active, 24 hours with rest times
- Yield: 12 large croissants 1 x
These Raspberry Chocolate Croissants are the classic, flaky French pastry with a tart and sweet raspberry filling and a strip of dark chocolate in the center.
- 1 1/2 cup s ( 12 oz /339 g) whole milk
- 1/4 cup ( 50 g) white sugar
- 1 Tbsp . + 1 tsp . ( 11 g) yeast
- 2 1/2 tsp . ( 15 g) sea salt
- 4 1/4 cup s ( 510 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the butter block and rolling
- 1 cup + 6 Tbsp. ( 310 gram s) butter (see notes)
For the Filling:
- 1/2 oz , (15g), heaping half cup or about half of a bag freeze dried raspberries
- 1/4 cup (30 g) powdered sugar
- 4 Tbsp . (28 g) almond flour
- 3 Tbsp .(42 g) butter
- 4 oz . (115 g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Whisk them together to combine, then pour in the milk while the mixer runs on slow. Continue to mix until all of the flour is incorporated, then turn it up to medium speed and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about an hour, or until it is slightly puffy and soft. Place it in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight if you can.
For the Butter Block:
Prepare two pieces of parchment paper. Lay one on your work surface and sprinkle it generously with flour. Lay out your butter on the floured parchement– it should be cold but not completely firm, or it will just break up into chunks. If you’re using sticks, cut them in half lengthwise and lay them side by side.
Sprinkle the top of the butter generously with flour, lay the other sheet of parchment on top, and gently bash it/roll out with a rolling until it is about 8″x8.” Set it in the refrigerator until the dough is ready. You want it to be cold, but still pliable when folding it into the dough.
To Laminate the Dough:
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a square about 10″x10″, then lay your butter block on top an angle, so that you have a diamond on top of a square. Pull the edges of the dough up and around the butter, pinching at the seams to seal it in.
Next, take your rolling pin and gently tap up and down along the dough, beginning to spread out the butter and pushing it out into a more rectangular shape. Gently roll the dough in one direction strokes (not going back and forth over it) until you have a rectangle measuring 18″x10″. Fold one third of the end of the rectangle over the center, then follow with the other end. The dough will be folded like a letter. Wrap it well in plastic wrap, then place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Remove the rolling/folding/refrigerating process 3 times, then your dough is ready to shape.
For the Filling:
During the refrigeration stage, crush the freeze dried raspberries until they are powder and small bits. Mix with the butter, powdered sugar, and almond flour until it’s thoroughly combined, then divide into 12 portions and roll into logs about 4″ long. Refrigerate until ready to use. Next, place a piece of parchment on a small baking tray. Melt down the chocolate down over a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring every ten seconds. Place it in a piping or disposable zippered bag and cut the tip or corner off. Pipe out 4″ batons of chocolate, then refrigerate until hard.
To Shape Traditional Croissants:
Cut the dough in half, and roll each half into a sheet of dough 12″x18″. Cut alternating triangles in the dough with 6″ wide bases. Cut a slit 1/2″ deep in the base of each one, then place about 1 Tbsp. of the raspberry filling and a bar of chocolate along the length of it. Roll each triangle up with one hand while holding and gently stretching the point of the triangle with the other hand.
Set each croissant on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover them with a clean plastic bag and allow them to rise for 1-2 hours, or until the dough is puffy and soft.
Brush the tops of the croissants with milk. Bake at 425F for 8-10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, or until the outsides are a deep golden brown.
Keywords: how to make croissants, raspberry chocolate croissants, croissant recipe
I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker
For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.
Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!
Save $12 vs. monthly
Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!
Menu Description: "Our famous Big Boy soups and chili are made fresh daily from fresh vegetables, pure cream and only the finest ingredients."
In 1936, Bob Wian had to make the painful decision to sell his cherished 1933 DeSoto roadster to buy a ten-stool lunch counter from a pair of elderly ladies in Glendale, California. He named his new restaurant Bob's Pantry, and went to work behind the counter himself. Receipts form his first day totaled only twelve dollars. But with the creation of a new hamburger just the next year, and a name change to Bob's Big Boy, business took off. Within three years Bob had expanded his first store and built another location in Los Angeles. In 1948 Bob Wian was voted mayor of Glendale.
A cup of broccoli soup makes a great first course or a nice partner to a sandwich. I first designed this recipe using frozen broccoli, but the frozen stuff just isn't as tasty as a big bunch of firm, fresh broccoli. So go shopping, and get chopping.
Served in a large bowl, this soup can be a small meal in itself, or serve four as an appetizer that you can pair with my Bob's Big Boy Double Decker Hamburger.
Menu Description: "A delicious combination of ham and turkey, plus Swiss and American cheeses on wheat bread. Lightly battered and fried until golden. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with red raspberry preserves for dipping."
It sounds crazy, but it tastes great: a triple-decker ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich is dipped in a tempura-style batter fried to a golden brown then served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a side of raspberry preserves. For over ten years tons of cloning requests for this one have stacked up at TSR Central, so it was time for a road trip. There are no Bennigan's in Las Vegas, and since the Bennigan's chain made this sandwich famous, I headed out to the nearest Bennigan's in San Diego. Back home, with an ice chest full of original Monte Cristo sandwiches well-preserved and ready to work with, I was able to come up with this simple clone for a delicious sandwich that is crispy on the outside, and hot, but not greasy, on the inside (the batter prevents the shortening from penetrating). This recipe makes one sandwich, which may be enough for two. If you want to make more, you'll most likely have to make more batter so that any additional sandwiches get a real good dunking. Recently, Bennigan's restaurants across the country have been closing, but with this secret formula you can still experience the taste of the chain's signature sandwich.
Try more of my copycat recipes for famous sandwiches here.
The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.
One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.
This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.
Menu Description: "Grilled chipotle chicken breast with guacamole and sour cream on a bed of greens tossed with two cheeses, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and our Mexi-ranch dressing."
Create a robust chipotle marinade that fills your chicken fillets with flavor. As you wait for the chicken to marinate you have plenty of time to throw together clones of the Mexi-ranch dressing and fresh pico de gallo. Now most of the work is done, and you're standing in front of the gate to salad heaven. When you're ready to enter, simply grill the chicken, assemble your salads and open wide.
You should know that if you don't have buttermilk for the dressing, and don't want to buy a whole carton to use just a single tablespoon, simply substitute regular milk. You'll find ground chipotle pepper where all the spices are stocked in the market: I use McCormick. If you can't track down ground chipotle, use ground cayenne pepper. Just be sure to measure roughly half the amount, since cayenne packs more heat than chipotle.
The secret to great crab cakes starts with great crab. Freshly cooked blue crab is the crab of choice for these crustacean cakes, but you can often find high quality canned backfin blue crab in some stores. One such brand comes in 16-ounce cans from Phillips Seafood and is sold at Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and Vons stores. Once you've got the crab grabbed you need to pick up some panko. Panko is Japanese-style bread crumbs usually found near the other Asian foods in your market. The Factory uses a little bit of panko to coat each of these small crab cakes for a great, lightly crunchy texture. One order of this appetizer at the restaurant gets you 3 crab cakes this recipe makes 6 cakes from 1/2-pound of crab. If you have a 1-pound can of crabmeat, you can save the leftover 1/2-pound for another recipe or double-up on this one. Any surplus crab cakes will keep for 24 hours in the fridge before you need to get them in a pan. Oh, and one other thing to remember when making crab cakes: be gentle. Don't stir the crab too much into the other ingredients. Rather, fold the mixture gingerly with a spatula to combine. You want any big chunks of tasty crab to stay as big chunks of tasty crab in the finished product.
I've duplicated many popular dishes from Cheesecake Factory. See if I cloned your favorites here.
Menu Description: "Known as Buffalo chicken wings here in the States."
No, Outback Steakhouse is not the country's largest importer of Australian woodland kingfisher wings. Despite the name, these tasty wings don't come from the wild birds also known as kookaburras. Instead, this appetizer is made the old fashioned way—with good old American chickens. And as with the traditional recipe, these wings are coated with Louisiana hot sauce but it's the breading that makes them unique. This clone Outback Steakhouse kookaburra wings recipe uses a secret blend of powdered cheese sprinkles and spices. Kraft powdered cheese can be found near the Kraft Parmesan cheese or near the macaroni and cheese kits in your supermarket. If you can't track it down, use Molly McButter cheese sprinkles. If you can't find that, get a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (it's cheap) and use the cheese inside it.
Wings aren't the only thing I've cloned from Outback. You can find my recipes for their Bushman Bread, Bloomin' Onion and many more entrees, salad dressings, and desserts here.
When YouTuber James Wright sang and swooned over Patti Labelle's Sweet Potato Pie in an exuberant November 2015 video, it went viral, racking up a quick 5 million views. The sudden popularity of the video led to a mad run on the pies, and stores around the country were sold out for weeks.
Now, no one who craves the rich goodness of a delicious sweet potato pie will be forced to go Patti-less for long, with this hack that re-creates everything good about her pie. And the one bad thing about her pie—that it's too small—is fixed here with a finished pie that is about twice as big as the store version. You won't find this recipe anywhere else, including Patti's cookbook, which makes a sweet potato pie very different from the bestselling pie that was sold out in stores.
What other incredible famous desserts can you whip up at home? Check out my other clone recipes here.
The PSL is doing A-OK at Starbucks. In 2018, Starbucks moved the release of its seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte from September to August in anticipation of record sales for the 15-year-old product. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, consumers in 2017 “visited PSL establishments twice as many times as typical patrons,” most likely because they know the drinks are around for only a short time.
The trick when hacking this Starbucks superstar is making a perfect clone of the syrup used in the drink. I found a friendly barista who was willing to squirt a little of the secret syrup into a cup for me to take back to headquarters for examination. Back in the lab I discovered the mysterious light orange–colored syrup had no spice particles in it whatsoever, meaning the flavors are added as extracts or oils. Most home cooks like you and me cannot get such ingredients, so I had to come up with a formula using easily accessible ground spices and pumpkin puree.
Using pumpkin pie spice makes this recipe easy and is much cheaper than buying all the spices separately. Pumpkin pie spice is a convenient blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and either allspice or clove, and it’s found in practically all food stores. For our hack, the blend is combined with a sugar solution and cooked until syrupy, then sweetened condensed milk is stirred in. Condensed milk is also used in the original syrup at Starbucks—according to the ingredients list—which is why the syrup they use is opaque and creamy. When your syrup is done, add a couple tablespoons to your latte, then top it off with whipped cream and a sprinkling of more spice.
Lattes are made with espresso, and in this case you’ll need a double shot, which is about ¼ cup. If you can’t make espresso, then make some strong coffee and use ½ cup of it. If you don’t have a way to steam milk, you can heat it up in the microwave for 2 minutes or until hot, then make it foamy with a milk foamer, immersion blender, or whisk.
Now, how about using that leftover syrup to make a Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew?
You won't find freezers, can openers, or microwave ovens at this national Mexican food chain. Since 1990 Baja Fresh has been serving up great food, made fresh with each order. As you're waiting for your food to come out, that's when you hit up the salsa bar, where you'll find several varieties of delicious fresh salsa, from hot to mild, ready to be spooned into little tubs that you can take to your table or to your car. One of the most popular selections is called Salsa Baja—its medium spiciness, smoky flavor, and deep black color make the salsa unique and mysterious. That is, until now, since I've got a Top Secret formula for you right here. But the recipe wasn't as easy to create as I first thought. I figured the tomatoes would have to be extremely blackened over a hot grill, but I wasn't sure how to get them dark enough to turn the salsa black without the tomatoes getting all mushy and falling apart on the barbecue.
So, I went back to Baja Fresh before they opened to peer through the window to see if I could catch some hot salsa production action. I waited and waited. After several hours as the lunch rush was beginning to wind down and no fresh salsa was in the pipeline, it was time for extreme measures to get things moving. I went in and ordered 30 tubs of Salsa Baja to go, and that did it. I ended up with a big bag filled with 2 gallons of salsa (thankfully they poured those 8-ounce portions into bigger bowls), and the restaurant went immediately into "salsa red alert" to replenished the now-dwindling salsa reserve. It was perfect. As I was grabbing my bag of salsa, a dude come out from the kitchen with a huge box of tomatoes and placed them all on the grill. I ordered a giant Diet Pepsi and parked myself at a close table to watch the process. That's when I discovered the secret. For super-charred tomatoes they start with firm, chilled tomatoes, that aren't too big or too ripe. I also found out that the tomatoes must start roasting on the grill with the stem-side down. The rest was simple.
Older than both McDonald's and Burger King, Jack-in-the Box is the world's fifth-largest hamburger chain, with 1,089 outlets by the end of 1991 in thirteen states throughout the West and Southwest. The restaurant, headquartered in San Diego, boasts one of the largest menus in the fast food world.
Now taste for yourself the homemade version of Jack's most popular item. The Jack-in-the Box Taco has been served since the inception of the chain, with very few changes over the years. If you're a fan of the Jumbo Jack or any of Jack's Shakes click here for my clone recipes.
A fork is no longer necessary to eat cake with this clone of Starbucks new portable pastry creation on a stick. The emerging trend of cake pops on blogs and at specialty bake shops caught the attention of the world’s largest coffee house chain. Starbucks research and development chefs figured out how to produce three different flavors for the large coffee chain: tiramisu, rocky road and the most popular flavor cloned here, birthday cake, which celebrates Starbucks’ 40th anniversary. The pops are each made by hand for the chain just as you will now create this delicious Starbucks birthday cake pop recipe.
Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.
Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.
Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.
In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.
How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones here.
Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."
In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.
Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.
Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.
The first Auntie Anne's pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country—a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers' market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne's is one of the most requested secret clone recipes around, especially on the internet. Many of the copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But by studying the Auntie Anne's home pretzel-making kit in the secret underground laboratory, I've discovered a better solution for re-creating the delicious mall treats than any clone recipe out there. For the best quality dough, you just need all-purpose flour. And powdered sugar works great to perfectly sweeten the dough. Now you just have to decide if you want to make the more traditional salted pretzels, or the sweet cinnamon sugar-coated kind. Decisions, decisions.
Anyone who loves Olive Garden is probably also a big fan of the bottomless basket of warm, garlicky breadsticks served before each meal at the huge Italian casual chain. My guess is that the breadsticks are proofed, and then sent to each restaurant where they are baked until golden brown, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. Getting the bread just right for a good Olive Garden breadstick recipe was tricky—I tried several different amounts of yeast in all-purpose flour, but then settled on bread flour to give these breadsticks the same chewy bite as the originals. The two-stage rising process is also a crucial step in this much requested homemade Olive Garden breadstick recipe. Also check out our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe.
Menu Description: "A spicy Thai dish with the flavors of curry, peanut, chili, and coconut. Sauteed with vegetables and served over rice."
This dish ranks very high among the most frequent entree clone requests from this growing chain's huge menu, and anyone who is a fan of Thai dishes falls in love with it. I dig recipes that include scratch sauces that can be used with other dishes. The curry and peanut sauces here are good like that. They can, for example, be used to sauce up grilled skewers of chicken or other meats, or as a flavorful drizzle onto lettuce wraps. But even though I've included the peanut sauce recipe from scratch here, you can take the quick route and save a little prep time by picking up a pre-made sauce found near the other Asian foods in the market. Since the sauce is used sparingly in a drizzle over the top of this dish it won't make a big difference which way you go. This recipe produces two Cheesecake Factory-size servings—which is another way of saying "huge." If your diners aren't prepared to process the gargantuan gastronomy and you're all out of doggie bags, you can easily split this recipe into four more sensible portions.
The problem with adding sauce to fried food is that the wet sauce makes the crunchy fried food not so crunchy. Panda Express manages to keep the crispy beef in Beijing Beef crispy even though it may be sitting for over 20 minutes in the sauce on its way to a hungry you. My early attempts at hacking my favorite dish at the massive Chinese food chain all resulted in gummy, soggy beef pieces that were more like flat dumplings than the delicious, crunchy strips of joy they were meant to be.
Then finally, on one batch, I decided to fry the coated beef for much longer than I intuitively felt it should be cooked, resulting in dark browning on the cornstarch coating and an even darker piece of meat beneath it. I anticipated a beef jerky experience, but when I took a bite, I found it to be delicious! It wasn’t tough and chewy as I expected it to be. And when this seemingly overcooked beef was stirred into the sauce, it stayed crispy until served, just like the real thing.
Now, with the soggy beef problem solved, we’ve finally got a good hack for this famous sweet-and-spicy dish.
Wendy’s claims it took three years to develop this hit chicken sandwich that’s built on a croissant roll and slathered with the chain’s secret maple glaze. Now you can re-create the sandwich at home (four of them, actually), with copycat ingredients, and I’ve got some shortcuts here to help make all of it quick and easy.
For the chicken, find frozen chicken breasts or large tenderloins with a homestyle breading. Tyson’s Southern Style Breast Tenderloins work great if you pick out the biggest pieces from the bag. The breading on this chicken is similar to what you get at Wendy’s.
Rather than making croissants from scratch, which is a time-consuming task, we’ll use Pillsbury dough from a tube. Pillsbury’s “Crescents” are not true croissants, even though they look and taste similar to croissants. Real croissant dough rises with yeast and would blow out a Pillsbury paper tube in a day or two, even if chilled. For that reason, Pillsbury uses baking powder in breads that usually call for yeast, such as cinnamon rolls and croissants. Unlike yeast, baking powder is a chemical leavening agent activated by heat, so the dough will remain stable in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, safely inside the paper tubes until you’re ready to bake it.
Instead of cooking the rolls as directed on the package, we'll roll the dough using the technique below, form it in a 3½-inch ring mold, and then bake it. This will make perfect croissant buns that we can slice and toast for our sandwich. If you don’t have a 3½-inch ring mold you can use a ring from a canning jar or a biscuit cutter. If the diameter of your ring is less than 3½ inches, just form the dough using the smaller ring, then remove it and press down on the dough to spread it out until it is 3½ inches across.
I've cloned a lot of items from Wendy's. See if I hacked your favorites here.
Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”
It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.
I incorporated all those missing ingredients into this new hack recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.
As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.
For the little bit of alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.
This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
And browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.
The Cheesecake Factory’s latest decadent dessert goes extreme with America’s favorite cookie. You’ll find Oreos in the middle of the cheesecake, in the cookie mousse layer, pressed onto the edge, sprinkled on the whipped cream, and even up on top where an Oreo wafer crowns each slice. In fact, I’ve designed this copycat Cheesecake Factory Oreo cheesecake recipe to use every Oreo in a standard size-package—all 36 of them!
This beautiful cheesecake starts with a chocolate cake layer, topped with a layer of chocolate buttercream icing, followed by a no-bake cheesecake layer, Oreo cookie mousse, and more chocolate icing. It’s a chocolate lover’s—and Oreo lover’s—dream, and not surprisingly, one of Cheesecake Factory’s best sellers.
When creating your own version of this dessert masterpiece at home, be sure to use a 10-inch springform pan. This is a big cheesecake, so you'll get 12 large slices out of it. The restaurant charges around 56 bucks for a whole cheesecake this big, but thankfully, a homemade version will cost you much less than that.
Three components must be mastered to properly hack this top menu pick at the country’s largest fast Chinese chain: candied nuts, honey sauce, and perfectly battered shrimp. For the candied walnuts, I came up with a technique using the oven, which means there’s no candy thermometer required and it’s a no-brainer. For the sauce, you just whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
To make your shrimp look like the shrimp at Panda Express, you don’t want them tightly curled up when they fry. You can keep them from curling by pinching the tail end of each shrimp after it has been floured and dipping it into the batter headfirst. When you pull it out, the weight of the batter will help unfurl the shrimp a bit, and if you then lower it slowly into the oil it will mostly stay that way.
When all the shrimp have been fried, bake them in the oven so that they are crispy and warm, then toss the shrimp and the nuts in the sweet honey sauce and serve.
Menu Description: "Two fresh breakfast favorites are even better together with our buttermilk pancakes swirled with cinnamon-brown sugar."
This new Cheesecake Factory brunch item packs everything you love about cinnamon rolls into an extra-wide stack of pancakes, including buttery icing on top. To make pancakes that are caramel brown on their faces and super spongy with lots of air pockets, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda in the batter. When the alkaline baking soda collides with the acidic buttermilk, the batter will instantly puff up, making pancakes that are extra light and airy, and very dark on their surface, like pretzels.
The batter here makes plain buttermilk pancakes until the secret cinnamon filling is swirled over the top of the batter when it's poured into the pan. The combination of brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter will melt into the pancake, making it look and taste like a sweet, buttery cinnamon roll. Hopefully you have a big griddle or very large skillet to cook these on. The original pancakes are 7 to 8 inches across, so you’ll need a big cooking surface if you want to cook more than one at a time. Or you could just make smaller pancakes.
Three things make Costco Blueberry Muffins special: they’re huge, they’re moist, and berries are bursting out of the top of each one. Now your home muffins can be just as special using a similar recipe and freshly unlocked tricks from our favorite big-box store.
Obviously, you get huge muffins by using a huge muffin pan, so you’ll need a jumbo or “Texas-size” muffin pan if you want your muffins the same size as the originals. You can certainly make standard muffins with this batter in a standard-size muffin pan, but in this case, bigger is definitely better.
To get muffins that are moist you’ll need oil. I noticed many muffin recipes use butter, but I found it made the muffins taste more like butter cake or pound cake than true muffins. Looking at the ingredients listed on the package of Kirkland muffins, you won’t find any butter in there. Just oil. For this hack, some of that oil comes from margarine (for a mild butter flavor and thicker batter), and the rest is vegetable oil.
As for the blueberries, if you add them straight into the batter the juice frozen on the outside of the berries will streak your batter blue, so be sure to rinse the berries before you add them. And to make your muffins look as irresistible as those at Costco, we’ll use another one of their tasty tricks: press 4 blueberries into the batter in each cup just before the pan goes into the oven so that every baked muffin is sure to have several tantalizing berries popping out of the top.
To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy Original Recipe Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.
As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.
On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for the Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.
I first published this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.
This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
It's time to clone America's best-selling brand of instant macaroni & cheese. This recipe is for the "Deluxe" variety of this popular product—that is, the one that comes with an envelope of thick cheese sauce, rather than the dry, powdered cheese. I think the "Deluxe" version, with its two-cheese blend, is the better tasting of the two. Now, with this Top Secret Recipe, you can make creamy macaroni and cheese that tastes like Kraft's original at a fraction of the price of the real thing.
Try more of my copycat recipes from Kraft here.
When you check in at one of more than 250 hotels run by this U.S. chain, you are handed a bag from a warming oven that contains two soft and delicious chocolate chip cookies. This is a tradition that began in the early 80s using a recipe from a small bakery in Atlanta. All of the cookies are baked fresh every day on the hotel premises. The chain claims to give out about 29,000 cookies every day. Raves for the cookies from customers convinced the hotel chain to start selling tins of the cookies online. But if you've got an insatiable chocolate chip cookie urge that can't wait for a package to be delivered, you'll want to try this cloned version. Just be sure to get the cookies out of the oven when they are barely turning brown so that they are soft and chewy in the middle when cool.
Now that you're in the swing of things, try baking more famous cookies from my recipes here.
Update 1/13/17: I like to drop the baking temperature to 325 degrees F for a chewier (better) cookie. Cook for about the same amount of time, 16 to 18 minutes.
Update 4/10/20: In April, Hilton Hotels released the actual recipe for the DoubleTree Hotels Signature Cookie for the first time. You can open that recipe in another window to see how close the real recipe revealed in 2020 comes to this clone recipe I created in 2002.
Menu Description: "Tender, crispy wild gulf shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce."
Bonefish Grill proudly refers to this appetizer as the "house specialty." And why not, it's an attractive dish with bang-up flavor, especially if you like your food on the spicy side. The heat in this Bang Bang Shrimp recipe comes from the secret sauce blend that's flavored with chili garlic sauce, also known as sambal. You can find this bright red sauce where the Asian foods in your market—and while you're there, pick up some rice vinegar. Once the sauce is made, you coat the shrimp in a simple seasoned breading, fry them to a nice golden brown, toss them gently in the sauce, and then serve them up on a bed of mixed greens to hungry folks who, hopefully, have a cool drink nearby to mellow the sting.
You might also like my recipes for Bonefish Grill's Saucy Shrimp and Citrus Herb Vinaigrette.
I’m not sure when it happened, but it appears Taco Bell recently changed its seasoned beef recipe. I hacked the recipe several years ago for the book TSR Step-by-Step, and I recall the recipe had much more oat filler, so that’s how I cloned it. Taco Bell came under fire in 2011 for the significant amount of oats in the recipe that the chain was listing as “spices,” and after that, Taco Bell was more transparent about ingredients. But somewhere along the way it appears the company tweaked the recipe to include less filler and more flavor, so I decided I had to create a new Top Secret Recipe for the beef.
This recipe makes a duplicate of the beef currently served at Taco Bell. If you want to turn it into a Chalupa—which the restaurant makes by deep frying the flatbread used for Gorditas—the instructions are here. But you can also use this new, improved beef hack for anything you’re copying, whether it's tacos, burritos, Enchiritos, Mexican Pizzas, or a big pile of nachos.
The secret ingredient in our hack is Knorr tomato bouillon. This flavor powder adds many ingredients found in the original recipe and provides the umami savoriness that’s required for a spot-on clone of the famous seasoned ground beef. To get the right flavor, you need to find "Knorr Tomato Bouillon with Chicken Flavor" powder, in a jar. Not the bouillon cubes.
Smother your creation in mild, hot or diablo sauce. Try all my Taco Bell copycat recipes here.
First impressions are important, and after my first bite of Denny's new buttermilk pancakes, I couldn't stop thinking about waffle cones. Back in the lab I mashed together a standard waffle cone recipe with one of mine for buttermilk pancakes and was able to create the perfect hack for Denny’s new, improved flapjacks. And because of their unique waffle cone flavor, these pancakes taste just as great doused with maple syrup as they do topped with a big scoop of ice cream.
The recipe makes eight big 6-inch pancakes, which you will form by measuring 1/2 cup of batter onto your preheated griddle or skillet. If you have a large griddle pan you may be able to make a couple of these at a time. With smaller pans, though, you’ll have to make one at time, which will take a little longer. And that’s why they invented mimosas.
Bob Evans built his first restaurant on a farm in Rio Grande, Ohio in 1962, primarily to sell his own brand of high-quality sausage. Business was good. Really good. There are now over 500 Bob Evans Restaurants in 18 states, each one decorated in a country-living theme that reminds us of the original farm location. Customers seem to like it. They also seem to like the packaged baked goods sold at each of the restaurants under the Bob Evans Farms brand, especially this top-selling, chewy, chocolate chunk cookie that can now be hacked in a snap by you. Try this Bob Evans chocolate chunk cookies recipe today. Make sure to buy chocolate chunks for baking!
Hooters debuted a new flavor and style of their famous chicken wings in 2013 with the introduction of Daytona Beach Style Wings—naked wings (not breaded) that are fried, sauced, and grilled. The new menu item was a sales success, eclipsing the famous buffalo-style wings the chain had become known for, and making it imperative that we have a delicious and accurate Hooters Daytona Beach style wings copycat hack. And now we do.
To build an identical home version you’ll first need to make a knockoff of the delicious Daytona sauce to brush over the wings. It’s a combination of barbecue sauce and the same cayenne sauce used to coat traditional buffalo wings, plus a few other important ingredients that make the sauce special—and things you won’t find in other hacks—like Worcestershire sauce and minced jalapeños. The wings are coated, grilled for just a minute on each side, then sauced again for maximum flavor. Stack the napkins close by and get something tall to drink, because these messy wings are guaranteed to deliver a super-spicy kick to your food hole.
Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”
This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up and she begged for more. That’s great, now I won’t have to eat alone.
Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken fillets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will soothe your soul.
Try this dish paired with my recent clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.
At the 2018 Salvation Army National Doughnut Day World Doughnut Eating Contest, held every June 1 st , competitive eater Joey Chestnut consumed 257 Hostess powdered Donettes in six minutes to take home the top prize. There was a big smile on Joey's powdered-sugar-and-crumb-coated face that day as he raised a trophy to celebrate another glorious gastronomic feat.
If you had to guess who makes the top-selling doughnuts in America, you’d probably say Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, but you’d be wrong. According to Hostess, Donettes are the country’s most popular doughnuts—you rarely find a supermarket, corner market, or convenience store without at least a few packages on the shelf. Hostess Donettes come in several flavors, including chocolate, crumb, and strawberry, but the one most people turn to, and the one I grew up on (they were called “Gems” back then), is coated with a thick layer of powdered sugar.
Cloning the Hostess powdered doughnuts recipe is not hard, once you know the secrets. You'll make a stiff cake dough, punch out 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter, pierce the dough with a straw or chopstick to make a hole, then fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes until golden brown. After you roll them in powdered sugar you'll have around 20 fresh, home-cloned miniature doughnuts that will make you feel like a kid again.
And—just doing a little math here—it would take Joey Chestnut all of about 14 seconds to eat that entire plate of doughnuts you just made.
In January of 2017, Starbucks perfected slow-cooked sous vide–style egg snacks that can be prepped and served quickly by the baristas at any location. To speed up service, Starbucks makes the egg pucks ahead of time, then freezes and ships them to the coffee stores where they are defrosted and reheated in blazing-hot convection ovens.
Sous vide refers to the method of cooking food sealed in bags or jars at a low, consistent temperature for a long time. This technique creates food that’s softer in texture and less dried out than food cooked with other, faster methods. Cooks who use sous vide will often vacuum pack their food in bags and use special machines to regulate temperature. But you won’t need an expensive machine like that for this recipe—just some 8-ounce canning jars and a blender.
The secret to duplicating the smooth texture starts with blending the cheeses very well until no lumps remain. Rub some of the cheese mixture between your fingers to make sure it’s smooth before you pour it into the jars. It’s also important to monitor the temperature of the water. Try to keep it between 170 and 180 degrees F so that your eggs are neither too tough nor too soft. It’s best to use a cooking thermometer for this, but if you don’t have one, the right temperature is just below where you see tiny bubbles rising to the surface. Also, if you hear the jars jiggling in the water, that’s their way of telling you the water is a bit too hot.
You might also like my version of Starbucks Egg White and Roasted Red Pepper Sous Vide Egg Bites.
My previously published recipe hack of America's most popular rice pudding was not clear about which kind of rice to use. That's a problem because not all rice is created equal. The recipe calls for medium-grain rice but is not any more specific than that, which could lead to varying results in the consistency of the pudding since every rice has a different thickening ability.
I recently reworked this recipe using many different types of rice, including instant rice, converted rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, calrose rice, arborio rice, and even sushi rice. Most didn't contain the starch needed to properly thicken the pudding, especially the par-cooked rice such as instant rice and converted rice. On the other end of the spectrum, sushi rice contained too much starch and was much too small.
The best of the bunch was jasmine rice, a long-grain rice, which thickened the pudding nicely after 45 minutes or so of simmering and appeared to be comparable in size to what is in the real thing. Jasmine rice plus five more ingredients are all it takes to make this new, improved clone.
And now there's no need for a cooking thermometer as required in my previous recipe, since you can just add the rice when you see the milk beginning to steam and keep the pudding at a low simmer until it's done. After about an hour, you'll have a Kozy Shack rice pudding copycat recipe that's ready to pop into the fridge until it’s cool, creamy, and ready to eat.
Also, check out my copycat recipe for Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding.
Here's how to build a cheeseburger in crispy spring roll dough and make the secret 4-ingredient dipping sauce for a perfect hack of one of Cheesecake Factory’s newest appetizers. I found the best solution for a good clone was to first cook two 4-ounce Angus patties—with no less than 15 percent fat so the beef stays juicy—in a sauté pan until browned. I then sauteed some onion in the same pan and mixed it into the crumbled patties, with ketchup and diced American cheese.
I tried several different wrappers and found the thinnest wrappers to work the best. Try to find wrappers that say “super thin” on them. Thicker dough wrappers will blister when fried, which is not how the restaurant version looks, although the thicker wrappers still make tasty spring rolls.
Rice paper wrappers will give you a chewier, less crispy bite, and are a good option if you're interested in a gluten-free version. If you go with rice paper, you won’t need the cornstarch solution to seal them. Dipping the whole wrapper in a little water makes the rice paper pliable and naturally sticky.
The list of recipes I've copied from Cheesecake Factory is almost as long as their menu. Check them out here.
It may look like it's all chocolate, but Wendy's founder Dave Thomas thought that a purely chocolate frozen dairy dessert would overpower his burger and fries, so he mixed chocolate with vanilla to create his signature ultra-thick shake, and in 1969, the Frosty was born.
My first crack at this iconic treat was revealed in a copycat recipe I published 25 years ago that called for mixing milk with Nestle Quik and vanilla ice cream in a blender. Tasty? Sure, it was. But the finished product was too runny, and the flavor wasn't perfect. That's why I recently holed myself up in the lab and created a formula that you churn in a home ice cream maker until thick and creamy, and it now tastes just like the real thing.
Unlike my previous recipe, which relied on premade ice cream and a drink mix, the scratch ingredients I used here allowed me to make small adjustments in flavor for a better match, and an ice cream maker is the perfect way to produce a thick, creamy consistency. So far, this is the best hack I've come up with to duplicate the treat that tests have shown is up to twice as thick as other famous desserts in a cup, including Dairy Queen's Blizzard and McDonald's McFlurry.
The most popular recipe circulating on the internet and among Food Network chefs who claim it as their own makes decent marshmallows, but the ubiquitous formula won’t pass as a hack for America’s favorite marshmallows, Jet-Puffed. I know this for sure because my eleven-year-old daughter says so, and she’s the House Marshmallow Expert (HME).
According to our HME, the internet recipe makes marshmallows that are too sweet, and they don't have the right flavor. After testing the sweetness for myself I decided she was right, so I reduced the sugar for my clone. I also adjusted the flavor by adding more vanilla, and after another taste test, my batch of fresh marshmallows got the HME seal of approval.
But the shape was still wrong.
One thing you’ll notice about homemade marshmallow recipes is that they all make cubic marshmallows, which are hand-sliced from one sheet of marshmallow that has set up in a square pan. But Jet-Puffed Marshmallows aren’t cubes, they’re cylindrical, and I wanted marshmallows like that. So, borrowing a technique for cornstarch molds used by candy manufacturers, I came up with a way you can make cylindrical marshmallows just like the big boys do. All you need is cornstarch and a muffin pan. You’ll find instructions for cylindrical marshmallows at the bottom of the recipe in the Tidbits if you want to give the more authentic shape a try.
Regardless of what shape you decide to make, a stand mixer and a candy thermometer will help you turn out the best-ever homemade marshmallows—which, by the way, make fantastic s'mores.
In the Bush’s Beans commercials, Duke, the family golden retriever, wants to sell the secret family recipe, but the Bush family always stops him. The dog is based on the Bush family’s real-life golden retriever, and the campaign, which began in 1995, made Bush’s the big dog of the canned baked beans market practically overnight. Their confidential baked beans formula is considered one of the top 10 biggest recipe secrets in the U.S.
Bush Brothers & Company had been canning a variety of fruits and vegetables for over 60 years when, in 1969, the company created canned baked beans using a cherished recipe from a family matriarch. Sales jumped from 10 thousand cases in the first year to over 100 thousand cases in 1970. And just one year later sales hit a million cases. Today Bush’s makes over 80 percent of the canned baked beans sold in the U.S., and the secret family recipe remains a top food secret, despite Duke’s attempts. A replica of the original recipe book—without the original recipe in it (drat!)—is on display at the company's visitor center in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.
I chose to hack the “Country Style” version of Bush’s Beans because I don’t think the Original flavor has enough, uh, flavor. Country Style is similar to Original, but richer, with more brown sugar. The recipe starts by soaking dry small white beans in a brine overnight. The salt in the water helps to soften the skins, but don’t soak them for more than 14 hours or the skins may begin to fall off.
My first versions tasted great but lacked the deep brown color of the real Bush’s beans, which include caramel coloring—an ingredient that can be hard to find on its own. I eventually discovered that the “browning” sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, will add the dark caramel color needed to our home version of the beans so that they’ll look just like the real thing.
This recipe was our #5 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4).
Hellmann’s—or Best Foods as the company is known west of the Rockies—recently debuted this new ketchup for customers looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial ingredients. The label lists only six ingredients: tomato puree, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, onion powder, and spices. It wasn’t immediately clear what the “spices” referred to until I wiped a wide smear of the ketchup across a white plate, making the blacks specks of fine grind pepper clearly stand out. After that it was just a matter of getting the ratios right.
If you're a fan of the original Heinz Ketchup, check out my clone recipe here.
Panera’s top soup pick in the summer is a creamy vegetarian chowder that’s full of flavor and easy to copy at home once you know an important flavor secret. I started my hack using a vegetable broth, since that’s what all the other “copycats” call for, but I found its strong vegetable flavor dominated the soup, so I quickly bailed on that plan.
Starting over, I referred to the soup’s ingredients posted online by Panera Bread and noticed there is no broth in the soup, which means every copycat recipe online is wrong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake in my recipe, but without the broth my soup would be lacking some important flavor components, and that’s no good either.
In many soup recipes, the broth or stock is important for the umami quality provided by the yeast extract added to the product. Yeast extracts are one of the many ways food manufacturers add an MSG flavor-enhancing effect without adding MSG. Panera does in fact list “yeast extract” as one of the ingredients in the soup, so I needed to find a readily available ingredient that would provide the same savory quality.
Enter nutritional yeast—or “nooch” as it’s often called—a flakey, nutrient-packed, vegan ingredient that’s growing quickly in popularity thanks to the savory, cheesy flavor it adds to a variety of foods (it’s great on popcorn). Nooch is also popular with vegans and vegetarians since it’s fortified with vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that's mainly found in animal-sourced foods.
Now, with nooch in there, along with yellow corn, red-skin potatoes, poblano peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and other tasty things, no broth is required. Just give it water and a little patience.
With a simple stack of meat, bacon, cheese, and secret sauce, the original BK Stacker was introduced in 2006 as a product targeted to men. Hungry men. The Stacker came with one, two, three, or four 2-ounce beef patties, and several slices of bacon on top, along with a slathering of the top secret Stacker sauce. Even though the sandwich had developed something of a cult following over the years, it was dropped from the menu in 2012.
Today, the BK Stacker has been revived, but this time as a bigger, badder version with a new name, and beefier beef patties that weigh in at a whopping quarter-pound each. And just like the original, you can stack the patties, but this time up to a max of three because the patties are so darn big. Good luck getting your mouth around a triple with nearly a pound of meat between the buns.
As with the original Stacker, this sandwich’s big secret is the Stacker sauce. Its base is a typical burger spread combo of mayo/ketchup/sweet pickle relish, but this one has a hint of celery flavor and rosemary not found in other burger sauces. To get the celery juice you can grate a stalk of celery on a grater or Microplane then press the pulp through a wire mesh strainer. You’ll get plenty of juice, but you just need a little bit to make your hacked sauce a perfect taste-alike. Just so you know, all other Stacker Sauce hacks I researched leave out the celery juice and rosemary.
The recipe here makes four single hamburgers, but feel free to stack up as many patties as you can handle.
When sales of this once limited-offering sandwich exceeded expectations, Wendy's made it a permanent menu item. Now you can re-create the spicy kick of the original with a secret blend of spices in the chicken's crispy coating. Follow the same stacking order as the original, and you will make four sandwich clones here at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.
Check out more Wendy's copycat recipes like their famous chili here.
The number two Mexican fast food chain nicely duplicates the delicious fish tacos you'd find in coastal towns south of the border: two corn tortillas wrapped around a fried halibut fillet that's topped with cabbage, fresh salsa, and a creamy "secret sauce." It's practically impossible to eat just one—they're that good. And, thanks to the availability of breaded frozen fish sticks in just about every market, a home clone is stupidly simple. If you can't find crispy halibut sticks in your local store, the more common breaded pollock will work just fine here. You can also use frozen fish portions that are grilled if you're not into the breaded (fried) stuff. The real recipe at Del Taco comes with two thin corn tortillas, but sometimes the only available corn tortillas in consumer markets are the thicker ones. If that's the case, you'll need just one per taco.
How about a cold margarita to wash down those tacos? Find your favorite famous drink recipes here.
If you like sweet with a little bit of heat, and if you like salmon, then this hack from Outback is the copycat recipe for you. Grilled salmon is brushed with the restaurant's top secret Firecracker Sauce and then it's topped with simple-to-make mango salsa. Those fabulous formulas are all here, and I’ll also show you how to cook the salmon the same way the restaurant does for a perfectly awesome kitchen clone.
As you can probably guess, KFC's Extra Crispy Tenders are chicken tenderloins coated with the same delicious breading as KFC’s Extra Crispy Chicken. These tenders come in servings of two, three, six, or twelve, with your choice of dipping sauces on the side including buffalo, barbecue, and the new Finger Lickin' Good Sauce.
To duplicate these chicken fingers at home we’ll resort to a similar prep technique to the one used for the Extra Crispy Chicken: the chicken is brined for 2 hours to give it more flavor and juiciness, then the tenders are double-breaded for an extra-crunchy coating.
An important secret revealed in this breading recipe is the use of a specific type of ground black pepper. For the best clone you want to use Tellicherry black pepper, which is premium black pepper ground from mature peppercorns that have had time to develop more flavor. The unique aftertaste of KFC chicken is attributed to this special spice, so it’s worth the time to track it down.
Tellicherry black pepper costs a little more than the younger, more common black pepper, but if you want a good clone of the famous crispy fried chicken, it’s an essential ingredient. Be sure to grind the pepper fine before adding it.
There’s one copycat recipe for these famous biscuits that’s posted and shared more than any other, and it’s downright awful. The dough is formulated with self-rising flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, shortening, and buttermilk, and many complain that the recipe creates dough that’s much too loose and the resulting biscuits are a complete disaster. Yet there the recipe remains on blogs and boards all over the interweb for unsuspecting home cloners such as yourself to waste time on. But that won’t happen anymore, because I have made a good copycat Bojangles' buttermilk biscuits recipe that works the way it should, guaranteeing you’ll get amazing golden buttermilk biscuits that look and taste just like a trained Bojangles’ pro made them.
In addition to the obvious overuse of buttermilk, the popular recipe I found online has many problems. The author gets it right when calling for self-rising flour, which is flour containing salt and a leavening agent (aka baking powder), but why would the copycat Bojangles biscuit recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it probably wouldn’t. Biscuits are job number 1 for self-rising flour, and the leavening in there is measured for that use, so there’s no need to add more. If you were planning to add your own leavening, you’d probably start with all-purpose flour, which has no leavening in it. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so we want to add as little as possible, not more than necessary.
It’s also important to handle the dough the same way that workers at Bojangles’ do. They make biscuits there every 20 minutes and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing the preparation technique. In a nutshell, the dough is mixed by hand (in the restaurant they use their hands because the quantity is so large, but for this recipe use a mixing spoon), then it’s folded over a few times on a floured countertop before it’s rolled out. This gentle handling of the dough prevents the gluten in the flour from toughening and adds layers, so your biscuits come out of the oven tender and flakey.
For the best results, find White Lily flour. This self-rising flour is low in gluten and makes unbelievably fluffy biscuits. If you use another self-rising brand, you’ll still get great biscuits, but the gluten level will likely be higher, the biscuits will be tougher, and you’ll probably need more buttermilk. Head down to the Tidbits below for details on that.
And I noticed another thing most copycat Bojangles biscuit recipes get wrong. For biscuits that are beautifully golden brown on the top and bottom, you’ll want to bake them on a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) at 500 degrees F. Yes, 500 degrees. That may seem hot, but this high temp works well with self-rising flour, and in 12 to 15 minutes the biscuits will be perfectly browned.
Counterintuitively, it’s the lower temperatures that end up burning the biscuits, while the higher temperature cooks them just right. At lower temps the biscuits must stay in the oven longer to cook through, which exposes the surfaces to more heat, and they end up too dark on the outside, especially the bottom. For even better results, if you have a convection setting on your oven, use that and set the temp to 475 degrees F. Your biscuits will look like they came straight from the drive-thru.
White Chocolate Raspberry Bundles
You're in for a surprise with this tasty treat. White Chocolate Raspberry Bundles are an easy dessert that you will want to enjoy over and over!
What You'll Need
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, (from a 17.25-ounce box) thawed for 30 minutes
- 1 / 4 cup raspberry preserves
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 / 4 cup cup chopped walnuts
- Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
What to Do
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out to a 12-inch square cut square into four 6-inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon raspberry preserves, 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts in center of each square. Bring pastry corners together and gently twist the dough to seal fan out the corners. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve.
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RECIPE: RASPBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
I felt like baking today so I decided to make muffins and a Malaysian style bread pudding. I’ll post the recipe for the pudding tomorrow.
The muffin recipe is by Ainsley Harriot and it is really yummy. The recipe makes 8 medium sized muffins but I recommend that you make double the mixture because it won’t last long. With all muffins, make sure that you do not over mix and use a metal spoon to mix the ingredients.
I have copied Ainsley’s recipe to the letter but I made my muffins at 190°c for 25 mins. You may need to adjust your cooking time according to you oven. Also I used ordinary caster sugar and frozen raspberries [by the way they are on sale in Coles this week (Creative Gourmet Brand) if you are interested….I bought a kilo each of raspberries and blackberries for the freezer].
Ingredients - makes 8
300g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar (I used ordinary sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract (not essence – you may need to put more if using essence)
225ml milk (I heated it for 40 sec in the microwave)
50g butter, melted
100g fresh raspberries
75g chopped white chocolate (I used Nestlé white choc melts and crushed it coarsely in a mortar and pestle)
Preheat the oven to 200°c/400°f/Gas 6. Cut parchment or greaseproof paper into 8x15cm/6in circles and push, creasing the paper to fit, into a muffin tin (I used paper cups).
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. Crack the egg into a separate bowl and whisk in the vanilla extract, milk and melted butter.
Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients with the raspberries and chocolate, taking care not to over-mix. Spoon the mixture into the parchment cases and bake for 30 minutes or so until well risen and just firm.
White Chocolate Raspberry Trifle
This decadent White Chocolate Raspberry Trifle has layers of white chocolate ganache, white chocolate mousse, pound cake, fresh raspberries and a whipped cream topping! It’s the best trifle to indulge in on special occasions.
With layers upon layers of white chocolate raspberry goodness, this homemade trifle makes a delicious treat. There’s no baking required and it’s easy to prepare. This trifle is like a deconstructed white chocolate raspberry cake! You can also use dark or milk chocolate for your trifle if you’d prefer. And you can substitute the raspberries for strawberries or another fruit. With this flexible recipe, you can make a dessert that’s perfect for your family. My favorite thing about this trifle is how easy it is to make and customize. But I also love how easy it is to decorate! I like to make it in a clear trifle dish so all the beautiful layers are visible. Once it’s topped with raspberries and shaved white chocolate, it’ll be the most gourmet dessert on the table. It basically decorates itself!
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