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    A common recipe for marshmallows circulating on the internet and amongst popular Food Network chefs who claim it as their own makes a decent product, but the recipe won’t pass as a hack for America’s favorite marshmallows, Jet-Puffed. I know this for sure because my ten-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. Testing the sweetness for myself I decided she was right, so I reduced the sugar for my clone. I also adjusted the flavor to 1½ teaspoons of 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 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 guys 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 great s'mores.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    My previously published recipe hack of America's most popular rice pudding was not picky about which kind of rice to use. That's a problem because all rice is not created equal. The recipe calls for medium grain rice but is not any more specific than that, which could lead to varying results in the consistency of the pudding since every rice has a different thickening ability.

    I recently re-worked this recipe with many types of rice, from short grain to long grain, using instant rice, converted rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, calrose rice, arborio rice, and even sushi rice. Most didn't contain the starch needed to properly thicken the pudding, especially the par-cooked rice such as instant rice and converted rice. On the other end of the spectrum, sushi rice contained too much starch and was much too small.

    The best of the bunch was jasmine rice, a long grain rice, which thickened the pudding nicely after 45 minutes or so of simmering and appeared to be comparable in size to what is in the real thing. Jasmine rice, plus five more ingredients is all it takes to make the best clone.

    And now there's no need for a cooking thermometer required by my previous recipe since you can just add the rice in when you see the milk beginning to steam and keep the pudding at a low simmer until it's done. After about an hour, you'll have a Kozy Shack rice pudding copycat recipe that's ready to pop into the fridge until cool and creamy.

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    In January of 2017 Starbucks perfected slow-cooked sous vide-style egg snacks that can be prepped and served quickly by the baristas at any location. The trick is to make the egg pucks ahead of time, then freeze and ship them to the coffee stores where they are defrosted and reheated in blazing hot convection ovens.

    Sous vide refers to the method of cooking food sealed in bags or jars at a low, consistent temperature for a long time. This technique creates food that’s softer in texture and less dried out than food cooked with other, faster methods. Cooks who use sous vide will often vacuum pack their food in bags and use special machines to regulate temperature. But you won’t need an expensive machine like that for this recipe—just some 8-ounce canning jars and a blender.

    The secret to duplicating the smooth texture starts with blending the cheeses very well until no lumps remain. Rub some between your fingers to make sure it’s smooth before you pour it into the jars. It’s also important to monitor the temperature of the water. Try to keep it in a range of between 170 and 180 degrees F. so that your eggs are neither too tough nor too soft. It’s best to use a cooking thermometer for this, but if you don’t have one, the right temperature is just below where you see tiny bubbles rising to the surface. Also, if you hear the jars jiggling in the water, it’s their way of telling you the water is a little too hot.

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    At the 2018 Salvation Army National Doughnut Day World Doughnut Eating Contest, held every June 1st, competitive eater Joey Chestnut consumed 257 Hostess powdered Donettes in six minutes to take home the top prize. There was a big smile on Joey's powdered-sugar-and-crumb-coated face that day as he raised a trophy to celebrate another glorious gastronomic feat.  

    If you had to guess who makes the top-selling doughnuts in America, you’d probably say Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, but you’d be wrong. According to Hostess, Donettes are the country’s most popular doughnuts—you rarely find a supermarket, corner market, or convenience store without at least a few packages on the shelf. Hostess Donettes come in several flavors, including chocolate, crumb and strawberry, but the one most people turn to, and the one I grew up on (they were called “Gems” back then), is coated with a thick layer of powdered sugar.    

    Cloning the Hostess powdered donuts recipe is not hard, once you know the secrets. You'll make a stiff cake dough, punch out 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter, pierce the dough with a straw or chopstick to make a hole, then fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes until golden brown. After you roll them in powdered sugar you'll have around 20 fresh home cloned miniature doughnuts that will make you feel like a kid again.

    And—just doing a little math here—it would take Joey Chestnut all of about 14 seconds to eat that entire plate of doughnuts you just made.

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    Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”

    This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up, and she begged for more. Great, now I won’t have to eat it alone.

    Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken filets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will knock their socks off.

    Try this dish paired with my recent free clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.

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    Hooters debuted a new flavor and style of their famous chicken wings in 2013 with the introduction of Daytona Beach Style Wings—naked wings (not breaded) that are fried, sauced and grilled. The new menu item was a sales success, eclipsing the famous buffalo style wings the chain had become known for, and making it imperative that we have a delicious and accurate copycat hack. And now we do.

    To build an identical home version you’ll first need to make a knock-off of the delicious Daytona sauce to brush over the wings. It’s a combination of barbecue sauce and the same cayenne sauce used to coat traditional Buffalo wings, plus a few other important ingredients that make the sauce special (and things you won’t find in other hacks), like Worcestershire sauce and minced jalapenos. The wings are coated, grilled for just a minute on each side, then sauced again for maximum flavor. Stack the napkins close by and get something tall to drink, because these messy wings are guaranteed to deliver a super spicy kick to your food hole.

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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 Evan's 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 Evan's 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

    First impressions are important, and after my first bite of Denny's new buttermilk pancakes, I couldn't stop thinking about waffle cones. Back in the lab I mashed a standard waffle cone recipe with one of mine for buttermilk pancakes and was able to come up with the perfect hack for Denny’s new improved flapjacks. And because of their unique waffle cone flavor, these pancakes taste just as great doused with maple syrup as they do topped with a big scoop of ice cream.

    The recipe makes 8 big 6-inch pancakes which you will form by measuring one-half cup of batter into your preheated griddle or skillet. If you have a large griddle pan you may be able to make a couple of these at a time. With smaller pans though you’ll have to make one at time, which will take a little longer. And that’s why they invented Mimosas.

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    Garlic mashed potatoes are a great side for many entrees, especially when the potatoes are as creamy and flavorful as those at Olive Garden. In our hack, the garlic gets boiled with the potatoes to soften it. When the potatoes get passed through a potato ricer (or mashed) the softened garlic goes along for the ride and gets mashed up too. This way you’re guaranteed to get plenty of garlic in every bite. I settled on cream as the dairy used here after my attempts using milk and half-and-half resulted in thin and runny potatoes. I found that cream adds the perfect thickness and smooth richness to the mashers, and it made the closest duplicate.

    This side goes great with our Olive Garden Stuffed Chicken Marsala copycat recipe.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    I’m not sure when it happened, but it appears that Taco Bell changed its seasoned beef recipe. I hacked the recipe several years ago for the book Step-by-Step, and I recall the recipe had much more oat filler, so that’s how I cloned it. Taco Bell came under fire in 2011 for the significant amount of oats in the recipe that the chain was listing as “spices.” And after that, Taco Bell was more transparent about ingredients. But somewhere along the way it appears the company tweaked the recipe to include less filler and more flavor, so a new Top Secret Recipe had to be created.

    This recipe makes a duplicate of the beef currently served at Taco Bell. If you want to turn it into a Chalupa—which the restaurant makes by deep frying the flatbread used for Gorditas—the instructions are here. But you can also use this new, improved beef hack for anything you’re copying, whether it's tacos, burritos, Enchiritos, Mexican Pizzas, or a big pile of nachos.

    The secret ingredient in our hack is Knorr tomato bouillon. This flavor powder adds many ingredients found in the original recipe and provides the umami savoriness that’s required for a spot-on clone of the famous seasoned ground beef. To get the right flavor, you need to find "Knorr Tomato Buoillon with Chicken Flavor" powder. Not the bouillon cubes.

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