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Candy

Welcome. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host, Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. See if Todd has hacked your favorite candy here. New recipes added every week.

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    The first See's Candy shop was opened in Los Angeles in 1921 by Charles A. See. He used his mother's candy recipes, and a picture of her at the age of seventy-one embellished every black-and-white box of chocolates. Mary See died in 1939 at the age of eighty-five, but her picture went on to become a symbol of quality and continuity. See's manufacturing plants are still located in California, but because the company will ship anywhere in the United States, See's has become a known and respected old-fashioned-style chocolatier all across the country.

    In an age of automation, many companies that manufacture chocolate have resorted to automated enrobing machines to coat their chocolates. But See's workers still hand-dip much of their candy. 

    One of the company's most popular sweets isn't dipped at all. It's a hard, rectangular lollipop that comes in chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch flavors. The latter, which tastes like caramel, is the most popular flavor of the three, and this recipe will enable you to clone the original, invented more than fifty years ago.

    You will need twelve shot glasses, espresso cups, or sake cups for molds, and twelve lollipop sticks or popsicle sticks.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The name Jolly Rancher has a friendly Western sound to it, and that’s why Bill Harmsen picked the name for his Golden, Colorado confection company in 1949. Bill sold chocolate and ice cream, but it was his hard candies that got the most attention, and that’s where Bill focused his efforts and grew his business.

    The first Jolly Rancher hard candies came in just three flavors: apple, grape, and cinnamon. Eventually they added more flavors including cherry, orange, lemon, grape, peach, and blue raspberry. But today the main flavors have been cut to just five: cherry, watermelon, apple, grape, and blue raspberry. I’ve included clone recipes here for four of them: grape, cherry, watermelon, and green apple.

    The flavors are all sour, thanks to malic acid, a very tart natural ingredient often used to make sour candies. If you can’t find malic acid, you can duplicate the sour taste with easier-to-find citric acid. I found some at Walmart.

    You’ll also need super-strength flavoring from LorAnn in whichever flavors you chose to make. This is the most popular baking/candy flavoring brand, and you can find it online or in craft stores like Michael’s. Each small bottle is 1 dram, which is just under 1 teaspoon, and you’ll need one of those for each flavor.  

    Regardless of which flavors you choose to make, the base candy recipe will be the same. The hard candy is formed by bringing the sugar solution up to the “hard crack” stage, or the stage where the candy becomes hard and brittle when cool. You must get the candy to exactly 300 degrees F, and for that, you’ll need a candy thermometer.

    The thermometer is essential here and will help you determine when to add the coloring, when to remove the candy from the heat, and when to add the malic or citric acid. If you cook the candy too long, it will begin to caramelize and darken and won't taste right. If you add the acid before the candy cools to 165 degrees F, it will burn and turn bitter. If you add it too late, it may be hard to mix.

    This recipe makes over 60 hard candies. When cool, crack the candies apart along their score lines, wrap them up in 4x4-inch cellophane candy wrappers, and you should have more than enough hacked homemade hard candies to fill a candy bowl.

    Click here to make more famous candy at home. 

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    These candy-coated biscuit sticks come in dozens of flavors today, but for years the original chocolate flavor invented by Yoshiaki Koma in Japan in 1966 was the only Pocky you could eat. Almond and strawberry were introduced in the ‘70s, and as Pocky sales grew throughout Asia and the world, more flavors were added including the popular matcha and cookies and cream found just about everywhere these days.

    Our homemade version starts by making a proper biscuit stick with a buttery flavor like the original. We’ll use real butter here rather than butter flavoring found in the real thing because we can. To give the stick its tender bite I found that pastry flour, with its lower gluten content, worked much better than all-purpose. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill brand pastry flour. And to further tenderize the sticks we’ll use both yeast and baking powder for leavening, just like the real ones.

    You can make dozens of very thin sticks by rolling the dough to 1/8-inch thick and about 5 inches wide. Use a sharp paring knife guided by a straight edge, like a metal ruler, to slice 1/8-inch wide strips of dough and arrange them on a lined baking sheet. I found that chilling the rolled-out dough in your freezer for 10 minutes makes the dough more manageable and the thin strips of dough will be less likely to break as you work with them.  

    Three coating flavors are included here: Chocolate, strawberry and matcha. The chocolate coating is made with chocolate-flavored melting chips or chunks and melts easily in your microwave. The strawberry and matcha are made with white chocolate or vanilla melting chips, with strawberry oil and real matcha powder added for flavor.      

    I've hacked a lot of famous candy over the years. See if I copied your favorites here

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    Score: 4.83. Votes: 6

    In 1871 a German immigrant named F. W. Rueckheim came to Chicago with $200 in his pocket. He used all of his money to open a small popcorn shop in the city and started selling a sweet caramel-and-molasses-coated popcorn confection. Rueckheim's big break came in 1893, when the treat was served at Chicago's first world's fair. From then on the popcorn's popularity grew enormously. In 1896 a salesman tasting the treat for the first time said, "That's a cracker jack," and the name stuck. Shortly after Cracker Jacks debut another customer commented, "The more you eat, the more you want," and that's still the slogan today.

    In 1912 the Cracker Jack Company started adding toy surprises, ranging from small books to miniature metal toy trains. To date they have given away more than 17 billion toy surprises. In 1964 Borden, Inc. bought the Cracker Jack Company, and today the Cracker Jack division is the largest user of popcorn in the world, popping more than twenty tons of corn a day. 

    Check out my clones for Fiddle Faddle, Poppycock, Screaming Yellow Zonkers, and Crunch N' Munch

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.60. Votes: 15

    In 1992 Fortune magazine estimated the Mars family's personal worth at somewhere around $12.5 billion. This solid foundation of wealth, built on the country's undying passion for chocolate and other sweets, has made this clan the richest family in America—and the most reclusive. A family rule prohibits photographs to be taken of the Mars family and corporate executives. According to Fortune, a photographer who once tried to get a shot of Forrest Mars, Sr., found himself enveloped in a cloth that was thrown as he was about to snap the picture. 

    The fortune grew steadily larger as the corporation routinely kept four brands in the top-ten-selling chocolates in the country: Milky Way, M&M's Plain and Peanut, and, in the number-one spot, Snickers.

    For a live demonstration of this classic clone recipe, check out this video.

    Check out my other clone recipes for famous candy bars here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    You probably think the dark chocolaty stuff that looks like dark chocolate on a dark chocolate Kind nut bar is all chocolate, but it mostly isn’t. There is chocolate in there, but chicory root is listed third in the ingredients statement, right after peanuts and almonds and way before cocoa, so the dark chocolate is actually a chocolate-flavored coating made mostly with chicory root fiber. Curiously, older labels list “chocolate-flavored coating” as the second ingredient, but newer labels don’t.

    Chicory is the root of the endive plant and it’s beloved in New Orleans, where it’s combined with coffee drinks because its taste is so similar to coffee. Chicory also happens to taste a lot like chocolate, and it’s cheaper than chocolate, and that’s probably why it’s used here.

    But just because Kind uses chicory, doesn’t mean we have to. For our hack, we’ll use real chocolate in the form of melting wafers you can find in most stores. I used Ghirardelli brand because it tastes great, but any easy-to-melt, dippable dark chocolate will do.

    The bars are stuck together with honey and agave syrup heated to 260 degrees F, or the hard ball stage. The sticky mixture is pressed into a 10x5-inch loaf pan, cooled, and sliced into 8 bars. The bottoms are dipped in the pure chocolate, and more is drizzled over the top. About 30 minutes later, when the chocolate sets up, your bars are ready to eat.

    Do you like dipping things in chocolate? Check out more of my clone recipes here

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    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.

     

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    Since the candy maker’s first milk chocolate bar debuted in 1900, just three other candy bars have carried the Hershey’s name. Hershey’s Special Dark came out in 1939 and Hershey’s Cookies and Crème was introduced in 1995. The third one—and the first to be made without any chocolate in it—is the new Hershey’s Gold Peanuts & Pretzels, which hit the shelves in late 2017.

    The base of the bar is “caramelized crème” that Hershey’s claims is made by browning the sugar in white crème. I recalled a recipe for caramelizing white chocolate by slowly cooking it in the oven, stirring often, until it becomes golden brown. By mixing in a little creamy peanut butter and salt with the white chocolate before it goes in the oven, I created a perfect golden base to which crushed peanuts and pretzels could be added.

    I poured the golden crème into candy bar molds and let them set in the fridge for 30 minutes. When I removed the candy from the molds it looked like it was made in a real candy bar factory, and it tasted like it too. I wrapped each in gold foil and felt like Willy Wonka.

    If you don’t have candy bar molds for your candy bars, you can make the candy in a more old-fashioned, homemade style by pouring the cooked candy onto parchment paper or wax paper on a baking sheet and allowing it to cool. When it’s firm, break up the candy and store it in a covered container or a resealable bag.

    Find more cool candy copycat recipes here

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    The famous hard caramel candy created in 1903 in the German town of Werther is easy to duplicate at home as long as you’ve got a candy thermometer and some rounded silicone candy molds. Realistically, you can make these candies any shape you want (one time I made some in a gummy-bear mold!), but the best shape for hard candies is something smooth and rounded. That’s what works best for a candy designed to be sucked on, rather than chewed. Just be sure to get enough molds to hold 50 or more bite-size candies at once.      

    This hack calls for fresh cream and butter just like the original, which was invented in Germany over 100 years ago and is now sold throughout Europe and North America. 

    I've hacked a lot of famous candy over the years. See if I copied your favorites here

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    Ultra-sour liquid candy in a spray bottle was first introduced to puckering mouths in Taiwan in 1975, and eventually came to the U.S. in 1993. The liquid candy is a simple formulation of sugar, flavoring, acids (for the sour), and glycerin. Once you have these ingredients, a home version is easy—just measure and stir. For your own ultra-tart spray candy hack, you’ll need six ingredients and three reusable small spray bottles.

    The sourness in the real thing comes from citric acid and malic acid, both of which are natural ingredients found in fruits and vegetables. Malic acid is a more intense sour and can be found at Whole Foods or online, while citric acid can be found in many stores, including Walmart. If you can’t track down malic acid, you can still make the recipe with just citric acid (see Tidbits). The quality of the sour will be a little different, but I’m pretty sure no kids will be complaining about it.  

    The candy is flavored with unsweetened Kool-Aid mix, which is great because there are so many flavors to choose from. The real Warheads come in watermelon, green apple, sour cherry, and blue raspberry, but the blue raspberry Kool-Aid also has lemonade in it, so that one won’t taste quite the same as the real one. 

    To thicken your spray, you’ll need some glycerin. Glycerin—also a natural product—is developed from vegetable oil or animal fat and is often used in icing preparation. Glycerin helps thicken the liquid candy to make it more syrupy, and it also adds sweetness. You’ll find glycerin where cake decorating supplies are sold, or online. 

    While you’re online, also look for three 2.7-ounce reusable spray bottles. That’s where I found mine. This recipe will fill each bottle all the way up, with a little left over for a partial refill.

    Making candy is fun! Check out my recipe for Haribo Gummy Bears here.

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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.

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