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Welcome. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host Todd Wilbur shows you how to duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. Todd's recipes are easy to follow and fun to make. Search for recipes by category here. New recipes added every week.

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    Since Panera Bread makes all its ingredients known, it's not hard to find out that there’s no chicken broth in the original recipe, yet every copycat recipe I located online calls for chicken broth, as well as other ingredients clearly not found in Panera's version. Unlike those other recipes, this hack uses the same or similar ingredients to those listed on the company’s website.

    One of the ingredients in the soup, according to the posted list, is yeast extract. This tasty ingredient adds an MSG-like savoriness to Panera’s soup, and we can duplicate it by using nutritional yeast—often called "nooch"—now found in many stores, including Whole Foods. A little bit of nooch will provide the umami deliciousness that replaces chicken broth or bouillon.

    Panera keeps its soup gluten-free by thickening it with a combination of rice flour and cornstarch, rather than wheat flour. I’ve included those ingredients as well so that your clone is similarly gluten-free. Use the steps below and in about an hour you’ll have 8 servings of a soup that is a culinary doppelganger to Panera Bread's all-time favorite soup, and at a mere fraction of the cost.

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    Several puzzles had to be solved to make this burger a satisfying hack of the signature sandwich from the rapidly expanding New York chain. First, our burger must include a spot-on facsimile of the secret ShackSauce. I got a sample of the sauce from one of our Las Vegas Shake Shacks and determined the seven common ingredients, including pickle juice, to combine for a great clone.

    Second, the burger must be made with a special ground mix of four different cuts of beef and the patties need to be cooked the right way. I tested many combinations of meat until I landed on a flavorful blend of chuck, brisket, skirt steak, and short ribs. If you don't have a meat grinder at home, you can have your butcher grind these for you. At the restaurant, the ground beef blend is formed into ¼-pound pucks that are smashed onto the grill with a metal press. Grab a strong spatula and heat up a heavy skillet.

    And third, you'll need some soft, buttered and toasted potato buns to hold it all together. Shake Shack uses Martin's rolls, which are not cut all the way through, allowing the buns to be hinged open for loading. If you can’t find Martin’s, any soft potato rolls will do.

    Use these secrets and follow the easy steps below and soon you’ll be biting into a perfect re-creation of the famous cheeseburger that helped this chain grow from a single food cart in New York City to over 162 stores.

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    Several years ago, when this moist, lemony frosted pound cake used to be called "Lemon Loaf," it was discontinued from the coffee house chain along with the banana and pumpkin flavors, and customers were outraged. The "Loafies" (my word for them) protested and demanded that the beloved sweet loaves be returned to their rightful pastry display case, and in early 2014, the treat was brought back.

    Today the Iced Lemon Loaf Cake (its new name), is made by the bakery chain La Boulange that Starbucks acquired in 2012, and it is a little different than the one I cloned years ago. So, I headed back down into the underground lab for a re-hack of this loaf cake, which will now produce a better lemon loaf that is bigger, moister, less oily, more buttery, and tastier than the previous version. If Starbucks ever ditches your Lemon Loaf again Loafies, I've got your back...right here with a hack.   

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    Panera Bread’s product information pages refer to a long proofing time when describing the sour characteristic of the chain’s phenomenal bagels, but there is no mention of how long. After several weeks of trying different approaches to proofing these cinnamon bit–filled bagels, I decided the best solution was to form the bagels and proof them overnight in the cold. The next day the bagels came out of the refrigerator not much bigger, but after sitting for several hours at room temperature they more than doubled in size and had a light sourdough flavor like the original.

    The cinnamon drops that go into the bagel were also tricky. I needed to come up with a way to make bits of cinnamon/sugar that were crunchy, but not so hard as to break a tooth. I found the best way was to make oven-cooked cinnamon candy bound with cornstarch and milk and tenderized with oil. This sugar mixture is baked in a loaf pan until no longer bubbling, then cooled and shattered into tiny pieces. When the candy is broken up, much of it gets pulverized into dust, which you separate from the crumbs with a sieve. The crumbs are the cinnamon drops used in the bagel, and the cinnamon/sugar powder is used to dust the tops of the bagels just before baking.

    I also found that kettling (boiling the bagels) with just a tablespoon of sugar in the water produced a browner bagel than kettling with no sugar, so that’s the technique I’m sharing here. Some techniques call for malt in the water, but sugar works just fine and makes the perfectly shiny, blistered crust you see in the photo.

    Panera Bread has amazing soups too! See if I hacked your favorite here

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    A great cream scone should include just enough cream to help the dough stick together, but not so much that the inside of the scone is gooey. And the perfect amount of butter is required to keep the scone from being either too tough, or too flakey, like pie crust. After two dozen attempts, I believe I’ve found the right ratios that will give you tender, nicely-browned scones with juicy blueberries buried inside—and very little blue dough from blueberry juice, just like the real thing.

    I tried this recipe with every type of blueberry—fresh, frozen, dry, and rehydrated—and found that frozen worked best. After baking, these berries had the same flavor and texture as those in the original scone, so I have to assume that Panera also uses frozen berries. The secret is to first rinse and blot the berries dry before adding them to the dough. If you mix the dough properly, it should be crumbly so that you can easily integrate the juicy berries into every portion of dough. Just don’t squeeze too hard when you form the dough, or the berries may pop and you’ll be seeing blue.

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    It's a simple formula, and a perfect sauce to have nearby when you're looking for a classic, great-tasting dip for your fondue-cooked shrimp and lobster. 

    Find out how to hack the chain's delicious signature cooking style here: Melting Pot Coq Au Vin Fondue.

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    If you like curry, you'll love this sweet-and-sour yogurt-based curry sauce, sweetened with sugar and citrus juices, and kicked up with just a pinch of cayenne pepper. Use this for saucing up your fondue-cooked chicken and shrimp. It's also good on vegetables.  

    Find out how to hack the chain's delicious signature cooking style here: Melting Pot Coq Au Vin Fondue.

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    The Melting Pot sells this thick sauce by the bottle and uses it as a marinade for sirloin in several of the entrees. But there's no need to buy the bottle since you can now whip up an easy clone of your own at home with this new Top Secret Recipe.

    Use this flavorful sauce for dipping fondue-cooked steak, chicken, and shrimp.

    Find out how to hack the chain's delicious signature cooking style here: Melting Pot Coq Au Vin Fondue.

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    It would have been great to find a brand-name plum sauce that is a perfect match to the ginger plum sauce served at The Melting Pot, but after trying several popular brands, none of them was quite right. The sauce that came the closest is made by Lee Kum Kee, and I found the best solution was to use that bottled sauce as a base and transform it into a clone by adding a few other ingredients.

    You'll find that this sweet-and-sour sauce tastes delicious on your fondue-cooked shrimp and chicken. 

    Find out how to hack the chain's delicious signature cooking style here: Melting Pot Coq Au Vin Fondue.

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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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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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