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Cookies & Brownies

Nice work. 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 for less money than eating out. See if Todd has hacked your favorite cookies & brownies here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 5

    In 1995 pediatric nurse Lindsay Frucci discovered a way to make chewy, fudgy brownies without any of fat. Today you can find her brownie mix boxes in thousands of grocery stores and specialty markets throughout the country. All you have to do is add some nonfat vanilla yogurt to the dry mix and bake. The brownies that emerge from your oven are good, but the mix can be pricey. One box of No Pudge! Fat Free Fudge Brownie Mix will set you back around four bucks, which seems like a lot when you consider that boxes of regular brownie mix from larger brands such as Pillsbury or Duncan Hines contain similar ingredients but sell for roughly half that. So I spent a week burning through gobs of cocoa, sugar, and flour in hopes of discovering an easy way to re-create that tasty mix at a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest brownie mix on the market. After much trial and error I finally nailed it.

    I tried many batches with Hershey's and Nestle's cocoa, but eventually decided the best widely available unsweetened cocoa powder for the task is the stuff made by Ghirardelli. Before you assemble this clone recipe, you'll also want to track down baker's sugar, which is a superfine sugar, and some powdered egg whites (health foods stores or cake decorating suppliers carry this). Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and when you're ready to make the brownies, simply mix in 2/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt, just like with the real thing. In 34 baking minutes (same as regular minutes, but they seem much longer) you'll have one plate of amazing fat-free chocolate brownies ready to eat.

    Click here for more famous cookie and brownie copycat recipes.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    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.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    One of the most-loved treats at the Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant chain are the crescent-shaped lemon cookies served at the end of your meal. The cookies are soft, chewy, and coated with a bright lemon icing, and it’s impossible to eat just one.

    Well, now you can eat as many as you like because this knockoff recipe makes five dozen lemony taste-alike cookies. And you won’t have to worry about getting a crescent cookie cutter to get the shapes right. First, cut out a circle using a round 2-inch biscuit cutter, then use the cutter to slice a chunk out of the round, making a crescent.

    You might also like my copycat recipe for Maggiano's Beef Tenderloin Medallions

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    I like making fortune cookies because it means I get to write fortunes. My fortunes are sometimes ridiculous (“No matter what, be sure you don’t…ah, never mind. Have a cookie.”), sometimes sarcastic (“Wow, you broke a cookie! Have you been working out?”), and sometimes paradoxical (“These cookies are filled with lies.”). But’s let’s face it, the fortune isn't the best part. What matters most is that the cookie tastes good.

    Contrary to popular belief, fortune cookies are not from China. They don’t even serve them in China. Fortune cookies are an American invention, created either in San Francisco or Los Angeles in the early 1900s—the exact origin is in dispute. Originally, I set out to clone the best-selling fortune cookie in the U.S., called Golden Bowl, made by Wonton Foods. But I found out that I don’t like those cookies. They're thin and tasteless and have an unnatural orange tint to them. Instead, I chose to hack the thicker, tastier, golden brown fortune cookies you get at the largest Chinese take-out chain.

    Fortune cookies start their life looking like pancake batter. The batter is formed into 3-inch circles that, when baked, become thin cookies. These are pliable when warm and crispy when cool—so you’ll need to work fast when forming them. Because they’re so thin, it’s best to bake the cookies on a silicone pad or nonstick foil. You can also use parchment paper, but it tends to ripple from the moisture of the batter, and that ripple shows up on the surface of the cookies.

    I suggest baking just three or four cookies at a time so that they'll all be warm and pliable while you add the fortunes and shape them. And if you're very fortunate, you can find a helpful someone to assist you with that part, so you'll be able to make more cookies faster. 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 9

    I jumped at the chance to get another crack at hacking one of America's most famous chocolate chip cookies when I was faced with the challenge for my show, Top Secret Recipe. After all, this was the very first recipe I cloned over twenty-five years ago, and I've learned many new tricks for replicating the famous foodstuffs since then. Getting the chance to improve on my old secret recipes with new information was a golden opportunity to craft the best Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookie clone recipe ever revealed. So I hopped on a plane and headed to Salt Lake City to meet with Tim Casey, president and CEO of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

    Tim showed me around the flavoring labs and test kitchens of Mrs. Fields HQ. I watched cookie dough being mixed, noting the oven temperature and length of time the cookies were baked. I was also able to discover one important trick I missed in my first recipe: after the dough was portioned out onto baking sheets, it was frozen. This way, when the cookies were baked, they came out crispy on the edges and soft and gooey in the middle. It made a huge difference!

    The company was understandably vague on the specifics of the proprietary vanilla and chocolate chips they use in the cookies, but I discovered through taste tests that Madagascar vanilla extract and high-quality chocolate chips such as those made by Guittard (or even Ghirardelli) are the way to go.

    Mission accomplished! What follows is my much-improved re-hack of the classic recipe that started it all, and perhaps one of the best chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of your oven. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur.

     

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    In 1987 the Mrs. Fields Corporation devised a rather clever treat called the Peanut Butter Dream bar-a delicious combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and a cookie-crumb crust. It was not only a tasty product but an economical one. Mrs. Fields has always had the policy of removing cookies that are more than two hours old from outlet display cases. Now, instead of being thrown away, the cookies are crumbled up and mixed with melted butter to form the Dream Bar crust. If you can't talk your local Mrs. Field's outlet into giving you old cookies for this Peanut Butter Dream Bar recipe, make your own cookies using my recipe found here.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Back in the 1870s, in the coastal city of Malmo, Sweden, a man named Anders Pahlsson baked the first of his soon-to-be famous gingersnaps in a bakery he named Pogen's. In 1970 Pogen's, Inc., opened in the United States, expanding the line of baked goods that Pahlsson developed in the nineteenth century.

    A legend that dates back many years says that if you place a gingersnap in the palm of your hand, press down in the middle, and it breaks into three pieces, good luck will follow. Today, more than 100 years later, good luck and hard work have made Pogen's the third-largest supplier of cookies to the growing vending business.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

    Update 1/26/17: Bump up the ginger flavor a little by adding another 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger to the recipe. Also, reduce the cinnamon, so that it doesn't dominate, by 1/2 teaspoon.

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    Score: 4.55. Votes: 44

    If those cute little cookie peddlers aren't posted outside the market, it may be tough to get your hands on these—the most popular cookies sold by the Girl Scouts every spring. One out of every four boxes of cookies sold by the girls is Thin Mints. This hack Girl Scout cookie thin mint recipe uses an improved version of the chocolate wafers created for the Oreo cookie clone in the second TSR book More Top Secret Recipes. That recipe creates 108 cookie wafers, so when you're done dipping, you'll have the equivalent of three boxes of the Girl Scout Cookies favorite. That's why you bought those extra cookie sheets, right? You could, of course, reduce this thin mint recipe by baking only one-third of the cookie dough for the wafers and then reducing the coating ingredients by one-third, giving you a total of 36 cookies. But that may not be enough to last you until next spring.

    Click here for more of your favorite Girl Scout Cookies

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

    Update 11/16/17: You can make an even better clone using a chocolate product that wasn't available when I created this recipe. Rather than using the semi-sweet chocolate chips combined with shortening and peppermint for coating the cookies, use Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers. You will need 2 10-ounce bags of the chips, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (and no shortening). Melt the chocolate the same way, and dip the cookies as instructed.

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    Score: 4.63. Votes: 158

    Here's the first Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie copycat recipe I created for the Top Secret Recipes books back in 1987. Inspired by a bogus chain-letter cookie recipe, this is my version of the delicious Mrs. Fields cookies that are crispy around the edge and chewy in the middle. Be careful not to cook these too long. I know it becomes tempting to keep cooking these—they don't seem to be done after 10 minutes—but they will continue to cook for awhile after you take them out of the oven, and when cool, will be chewy in the middle.

    Try my improved version that I created with the secrets that I learned at Mrs. Fields HQ here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.45. Votes: 11

    At one time Nabisco actually conducted a study to determined that 50 percent of Oreo consumers twist the cookie apart before eating it. I guess this is important information since it concerns the world's top-selling cookie. Historians at Nabisco aren't sure who came up with the idea for this sandwich cookie back in 1912, but they do know that it was introduced along with two other cookie creations that have long since died. The name may have come from the Greek word for mountain, oreo, which would once have made sense because the first test version was hill-shaped. When the Oreo was first sold to the public, it was much larger than today's cookie, but it kept shrinking over the years until Nabisco realized it had become too small and had to enlarge it again to today's current 1 3/4-inch diameter. 

    In 1975, Nabisco figured we couldn't have too much of a good thing, so the company gave us Double Stuf Oreos, with twice the filling. But why stop there? Now you're free to pile as much "stuf" on your cookies as you like.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur. 

    Watch this video demo: How to Clone an Oreo Cookie (plus how to make a really BIG Oreo!).

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