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Desserts

You lucky devil. 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 desserts here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Fresh ripe bananas in our rich vanilla cream, topped with fresh whipped cream or fluffy meringue." 

    Bakers get to work by 5 a.m. at Marie Callender's to begin baking over 30 varieties of pies. Huge pies. Pies that weigh nearly three pounds apiece. The fresh, creamy, flaky delicious pies that have made Marie Callender's famous in the food biz. On those mornings about 250 pies will be made at each of the 147 restaurants. Modest, I suppose, when compared with Thanksgiving Day when the stores can make up to 3,500 pies each.

    For now though, we'll start with just one—banana cream pie with flaky crust, whipped cream, and slivered almonds on top. This recipe requires that you bake the crust unfilled, so you will have to use a pie weight or other oven-safe object to keep the crust from puffing up. Large pie weights are sold in many stores, or you can use small metal or ceramic weights (sold in packages). Or place dried beans on the crust which has first been lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.96. Votes: 25

    Menu Description: "Warm chocolate cake w/chocolate fudge filling. Topped w/vanilla ice cream under a crunchy chocolate shell."

    Get out your "easy" button for this one. The clone recipe for this top-requested Chili's dessert is easy to make—and can even be made days ahead of time. A chocolate fudge cake mix is all you need for the cake part of the recipe. The cake batter is poured into the large cups of a Texas-size muffin pan. When the cakes are done and cooled, you make a secret hole where the hot chocolate is loaded. Now you can keep the cakes chilled until dessert time. To serve, heat a cake, plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and top it off with some Magic Shell, (a chocolate topping that hardens on ice cream) that you can make from scratch with my recipe here. When your diners dig into the cake, the delicious hot fudge center oozes out of the warm chocolate cake.

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

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.
    Try my improved version in Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.

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    For years now I've been on the lookout for a great chain restaurant crème brulee to clone for one of my books, but I hadn't located a really fantastic formula to hack until I tried this one. The Capital Grille's Classic Crème Brulee is a perfect blend of sweet and creamy with amazing flavor that comes from real vanilla bean. If you want an easy dessert to impress that you can prepare a day or two in advance of the sit-down, this is your recipe. When it comes time to serve the brulee, sprinkle each serving with a little white sugar and caramelize it with a small chef's torch (if you don't already have one, you can find them online or at kitchen stores for around 15 bucks). Add a garnish of fresh seasonal berries plus a sprig of mint, and serve up the goodness. 

    Now, how about an amazing petite filet for dinner

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

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    Menu Description: “Northern Spy apples baked in a pastry crust topped with vanilla ice cream and a caramel drizzle.”

    The most important component of a good crostata, or Italian baked tart, is a great crust. When cloning this top Olive Garden dessert, that's where I first focused my efforts, baking dozens of slightly different unfilled sugared crusts. Thankfully, flour is cheap. Once I had an easy, yet still delicious and flakey crust that was as good, if not better, than the real thing, I turned to the filling.

    Olive Garden uses Northern Spy apples in the crostata, which are somewhat tart, firm apples often used in pies. But they are hard to find. If you can’t find Northern Spy apples, the much more common Granny Smith apples work just fine here. As for chopping the apples, I noted that the apple pieces in the real crostata have no uniformity—the apples appear to be sliced, then those slices are coarsely chopped, resulting in a mixture of small and large apple pieces. We'll do the same here.

    After your crostatas have been baked to a golden brown, top each one with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle some caramel sauce over the top for a beautiful dessert no one will have the power to resist. 

    This recipe makes four crostatas, which is enough for eight people to share. If you have crostatas left over, they can be stored in a covered container for a couple of days, then reheated under a broiler until hot just before serving.

    Want some more of my Olive Garden clone recipes? I've got a bunch right here.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    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.

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    Recently, Hostess released a new “limited-edition” mint chocolate version of the brand’s famous CupCakes, with mint creamy filling and mint frosting on top. I had already hacked the well-known chocolate CupCakes from Hostess for Step-by-Step, so the cake recipe and the white icing on top was already done. I reworked the filling and the frosting with delicious mint flavor and proper green hue, and put it all together in this new hack that’s a twist on an old favorite.

    As with the chocolate CupCakes clone, the frosting is designed to be runny so that you can dip the cupcakes in it. This will produce a smooth frosting that, when dry, looks just like the real thing. Most likely you’ll need a couple coats of frosting. The first coat is a crumb layer that locks in the chocolate cake crumbs so that the second layer finishes clean and smooth. If you find that you’re losing too many crumbs in the frosting bowl when dipping the cupcakes, you may want to spread on your first layer with a butter knife.   

    Before baking be sure to grease your muffin cups well so that cupcakes come out clean. And you'll need a piping bag or pastry gun with a medium tip to fill the cupcakes and a small tip to add the seven loops of white icing on top. No proper clone of this famous product would be right without that final step.

    Check out my clone recipes for Hostess Twiinkies and Powdered Donettes

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Topped with vanilla ice cream under a hard chocolate shell."

    After the success of the Molten Chocolate Cake, Chili's chefs went back into the development kitchen and emerged with this incredible white chocolate variation that has become the new go-to meal ender. Just as with my clone for the Molten Chocolate Cake in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, I found that an instant cake mix is the perfect solution to quickly and easily copy this awesome dish. It just so happens that Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix produces a butter cake that perfectly matches the moist, buttery cake in the Chili's original. For the molten white chocolate inside the cake we mix melted white chocolate chips with cream and then spoon the creamy mixture into a hole cut into each cake. Pop the filled cakes into your refrigerator, and then when you're ready to serve the dessert, nuke each one in the microwave to heat up the filling, add ice cream and a little white chocolate on top, and serve. This is a great make-ahead dish since the loaded cakes can be stored in your refrigerator for a couple days (or even longer in your freezer), and when you're ready to plate the impressive dessert each serving only takes a minute or two to set up.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.50. Votes: 2

    So, you need to make some buttery yellow cake, but you don't have any mix in the pantry. Or perhaps you love the moist and delicious cake made from a box, but aren't a big fan of all the polysyllabic preservatives and thickeners that come along for the ride. Here is the TSR way to make homemade yellow cake mix from scratch using basic baking ingredients. You can store the cloned dry mix in a sealed container for several weeks in a cabinet until you need it. Then, when you're ready to make the cake, simply add water, oil, and eggs to the mix in the exact measurements required by the original, then pour the batter into a pan and pop it in the oven. Done. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Roll a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream in homemade candied pecans. Surround the ice cream with warm cinnamon apples and drizzle caramel over the top. Sprinkle fresh cinnamon-butter croutons on the dessert and you've got an irresistible clone that will make your diet cry "uncle!" For the croutons, the restaurant uses leftover Honey Wheat Bushman Bread (the clone is here). If you don't have plans to make the bread from scratch, you can use any sweet bread from the store, such as Hawaiian Sweet Bread or Pillsbury Honey White Bread.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Just 15 minutes after the very first Cheesecake Factory opened in Beverly Hills back in 1978, the lines began forming. Here's their cheesecake twist on the delicious Key lime pie. Since Key limes and Key lime juice can be hard to find, this recipe uses standard lime juice which can be purchased bottled or squeezed fresh. If you can find Key lime juice, bear in mind that Key limes are more tart, so you'll need only half as much juice. This recipe also requires a springform pan. If you don't have one, you can use two 9-inch pie pans and make two smaller cheesecakes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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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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