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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: 7

    Menu Description: "The classic Italian dessert. A layer of creamy custard set atop espresso-soaked ladyfingers."

    In Italian, tiramisu means "pick me up" or "cheer me up." And when you taste the delicious combination of mascarpone cheese (sometimes referred to as Italian cream cheese), cream cheese, ladyfingers, espresso and Kahlua it will be hard not to smile. So get out your double boiler for the egg yolks (a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water will also do) and get some ladyfingers (ladyfingers are miniature cakes about the size of two fingers side-by-side). You can either make your own espresso, use extra strong coffee as a substitute, or, next time you're at Starbucks, order up a quadruple shot of espresso to go.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.74. Votes: 43

    Menu Description: "Delicate white cake and lemon cream filling with a vanilla crumb topping."

    To make this clone easy I've designed the recipe with white cake mix. I picked Betty Crocker brand, but any white cake mix you find will do. Just know that each brand (Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, etc.) requires slightly different measurements of additional ingredients (oil, eggs). Follow the directions on the box for mixing the batter, then pour it into a greased 10-inch springform pan and bake until done. The filling recipe is a no-brainer and the crumb topping is quick. When your Olive Garden lemon cream cake recipe is assembled, stick it in the fridge for a few hours, and soon you'll be ready to serve 12 slices of the hacked signature dessert.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 5

    Menu Description: “Banana Cream Cheesecake Topped with Bavarian Cream and Fresh Sliced Bananas.”

    I’ve learned a lot about cheesecakes over the last couple decades in the process of duplicating a variety of popular versions for the Top Secret Recipes cookbooks, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But the biggest secret I’ve discovered for baking picture-perfect cheesecakes is using a water bath. By baking the cheesecake in a pan filled with just a little water you add moisture to the oven, thereby allowing the top of the cheesecake to expand as it cooks without developing what will look like an aerial view of the San Andreas Fault. If you don’t over mix your filling and use a water bath, you’ll bake a restaurant-quality cheesecake every time. You also need to have a good recipe of course, and this one here is great if you like banana cream pie. It’s quickly become a top choice at the restaurant chain because of the banana flavor hidden in each layer. And everyone knows that Nilla Wafers go great with bananas, so these ground-up cookies make the perfect crust.

    Find more amazing Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.50. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and our Original Cheesecake covered with our special Cheesecake Factory cream cheese frosting."

    To make the best Cheesecake Factory red velvet cake recipe, we must start with a good red velvet cake recipe. I studied several versions and eventually created a red velvet formula that is moist, with the perfect color and size to layer into a 9-inch springform pan between no-bake cheesecake filling. When the cake sets up in a few hours, you remove it from the pan and apply the delicious cream cheese frosting. The white chocolate curls pressed into the side of the cake can be made easily by dragging a peeler over the edge of a white chocolate bar. One 4-ounce bar will give you more than enough of the curls, but that’s okay since many will fall off in the process of pressing them onto the side of the cake.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 6

    There's nothing like a slice of fresh carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a tall hot latte. Carrot cake and coffee go well together. I suppose that's why you'll find one of the best carrot cakes around at Starbucks. It's moist and flavorful, packed with nuts and golden raisins. Starbucks makes sure its tasty baked goods are fresh by contracting with local bakeries to produce cakes and scones and muffins from the coffee chain's top secret specs. Now you've got your own secret specs with this formula for a carrot cake clone that tastes like it came straight from the coffee house.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.33. Votes: 3

    Here's a clone recipe for a favorite East Coast treat that could even fool Rosie O'Donnell. The snack food-loving talk show hostess professed her love for these tasty Drake's goodies on her daytime show. And who could blame her? It's hard not to relish the smooth, fluffy filling between two tender devil's food cake fingers. I'll take a Devil Dog over a Twinkie any day of the week. For this clone recipe, we'll make the cakes from scratch. This will create a cake similar to the original. You may also use a devil's food cake mix rather than the scratch recipe here. Just make the filling with the recipe below and assemble your cakes the same way.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.92. Votes: 12

    Menu Description: "A freshly baked, hot out-of-the oven, rich and delicious cookie topped with 2 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and served in its own deep dish. Your choice of chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter or oatmeal raisin walnut."

    Visit one of the 83 BJ's restaurants located in the West and Southwest and you'll likely find many giddy diners digging down into one of these deep-dish cookie desserts. Even though the restaurant is known for great Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas and a fantastic selection of custom-brewed beers, it's the Pizookie at the end of the meal that gets the most drools. There are four varieties to choose from on the menu, so I'm giving you the BJ's Pizookie recipe for all four below. Each formula makes enough dough for one giant cookie, and the Pizookie recipe is so easy that you could make more than one with just a little extra effort. You might think that the cooking temperature of 475 degrees is extreme for a cookie, but since BJ's is a pizza joint, these puppies get cooked in cranked-up pizza ovens, and it works great. Not only will you have your cookie done in only 5 to 7 minutes, but also it'll be nice and brown on top, and slightly gooey in the center—all good things for a cookie, right? The restaurants uses 6-inch deep-dish pizza pans, but you can bake your clones in any cake pan or pie pan with a bottom that is 6 to 7 inches across.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.56. Votes: 9

    Menu Description: "Citrus cake soaked in a sweet cream, topped with lemon mousse and finished off with our fresh Italian whipped cream and caramel."

    When creating this delicious dessert, chefs at Romano's must have been thinking about Tres Leches Cake that is popular throughout Latin America. The traditional Mexican recipe describes a dense vanilla cake soaked with three types of milk: whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. This creates a very moist and rich dessert that is an excellent finish to pretty much any meal. Romano's twist on the traditional favorite is the addition of citrus juices to the cake, a creamier soaking liquid, and a tangy lemon topping. I first tried re-creating the cake with boxed mixes, but they all produce cakes that are much too light and moist, and inevitably turn to mush when soaked in the sweet liquid. The final solution is a scratch cake recipe yielding denser, yet still moist citrus cake, that holds up to the eventual drenching. You will want to eat this dessert within a day or two of the soaking or it may start to fall apart. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.88. Votes: 8

    Menu Description: "With vanilla ice cream and sticky bun caramel sauce." 

    I've been searching for the restaurant chain with the best bread pudding recipe, and I think I've found it here at Gordon Biersch. This small, yet growing, microbrewery chain serves great beer, awesome pizza, and a bread pudding that is downright amazing. It could be described as what would materialize out the other side if Jeff Goldblum threw an apple pie, some bread pudding and a cinnamon roll into his teleportation machine from "The Fly," and everything came out the other side combined into a single awesome dessert. The sauteed apples laid into the middle of the bread pudding make other bread puddings I eat now seem like they're missing something. And the homemade caramel sauce, with just a little brown sugar thrown into our clone version, adds a sticky bun flavor you'll have dreams about. No matter how big your dinner feast was, everyone will still somehow find room for this. The original at the restaurant is baked in a deep pan, and the pudding is sliced and served on its side, so you'll want to use the biggest loaf pan you can find. I used a 3-inch deep 10x5-inch loaf pan, and it was full. If your pan is smaller, you may have to leave a bit out. The pudding will swell up out of the pan as it cooks, but it will shrink back down as it cools. Fun to watch. You may want to make this the day before so that the bread pudding can set up in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, nuke a serving for 1 minute until warm, then add the sauce and ice cream and a handful of pecans. It appears the restaurant chain uses egg bread in the pudding, but Texas Toast thick-sliced white bread may be easier to find, and it works just as well.

    Click here for more of my Gordon Biersch copycat recipes. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    The Cheesecake Factory’s autumnal dessert offering is a clever mashup of pecan pie and pumpkin cheesecake in a traditional flakey pie crust. At first glance, I thought this would be an easy one to unlock, but I found the recipe to be a surprisingly tricky hack since all the components in the cheesecake follow different baking rules.

    The first step was to design a crust that could withstand being cooked three times. After a few tests, I came up with a recipe that produces a hardy dough that can be par-baked, then baked again two more times while maintaining flakiness.

    The next step was to thicken the pecan filling before adding it to the cheesecake pan. My first version skipped this step and pecan filling soaked through the crust and through the springform pan onto the bottom of the oven, where a charred, dark stain remains to this day.

    Cooking the pecan filling before it goes into the cheesecake will thicken it so it won't soak through the crust and wind up dirtying your oven. After the filling cools for 45 minutes, you can build a cheesecake on top of it.

    Add the cheesecake filling right up to the top of the crust. If you do a good job making the top edge of the crust even all the way around, the cheesecake filling will fit perfectly.

    I'm sharing two ways to make the delicious finishing caramel sauce that goes over the top. The easy way is to simply combine walnuts with your favorite caramel sauce and pour it over a slice. But the best way is to make the sauce from scratch using the recipe I've included here. It's only a few ingredients, it's not too hard, and you'll love the results.

    Pour the sauce over the top, add a dollop of whipped cream, and you'll have produced a finished slice of cheesecake that looks—and tastes—like it was made by a pro.

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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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