Roy’s chefs bake this signature “lava cake” dessert in parchment paper-lined metal cylindrical molds that are slipped off the soufflé when plating the dish. Fortunately we don’t have to locate a restaurant supply outlet to obtain similar molds when the tool we need is easily found in every supermarket. Save the 4-ounce cans that hold diced peppers or whatever you may find that comes in small cans with a 2 ½-inch diameter. Cut off the top and bottom, remove the labels, wash the cans, and you have the exact same size molds as those used at Roy’s. The recipe for the batter is simple with only 4 ingredients, but plan ahead for this dessert because the batter needs to chill in the molds before baking so that the centers stay gooey and uncooked like the original.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Raspberry sauce
- Powdered sugar
On the side
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a medium glass or ceramic microwave-safe bowl in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir it, then nuke it again for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the sugar and mix with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt and mix for another minute.
3. Open the top and bottom of four 4-ounce cans (such as the kind that hold diced peppers), remove the labels, and clean out the cans. Line the inside of each can with parchment paper. Make sure the paper is pushed all the way down to the bottom of the can so that the souffle will slip out easily when cooked. Position each lined can on an additional piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
4. Fill each can with an equal amount of cake batter, cover all of them with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5. When you are ready to bake the desserts, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Place the souffles in the oven, bake for 20 minutes or until they nearly double in size and begin to crack on top, then remove them from the oven and cool for two minutes.
7. Place each molded souffle onto the center of a serving plate, carefully remove the can, and peel away the parchment paper. Drizzle the raspberry sauce onto the plate and dust the souffle with a little powdered sugar. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to each plate and serve.
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When you check in at one of more than 250 hotels run by this U.S. chain, you are handed a bag from a warming oven that contains two soft and delicious chocolate chip cookies. This is a tradition that began in the early 80s using a recipe from a small bakery in Atlanta. All of the cookies are baked fresh every day on the hotel premises. The chain claims to give out about 29,000 cookies every day.
Raves for the cookies from customers convinced the hotel chain to start selling tins of the cookies online. But if you've got an insatiable chocolate chip cookie urge that can't wait for a package to be delivered, you'll want to try my DoubleTree Hotel Chocolate Chip cookie recipe below. Just be sure to get the cookies out of the oven when they are barely turning brown so that they are soft and chewy in the middle when cool.
Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
Update 4/10/20: In April, Hilton Hotels released the actual recipe for the DoubleTree Hotels Signature Cookie for the first time. You can view that recipe and compare it to this clone recipe I created in 2002. I got pretty close!
Joseph Weiss was living in New York with his wife and son when his doctor told him he would need a change of climate to help his asthma. He journeyed to Miami, Florida in 1913 and discovered he was able to breathe again. He quickly moved his family down South and opened his first restaurant, a little lunch counter. Joe's restaurant business exploded in 1921 when he discovered how to cook and serve the stone crabs caught off the coast. Joe boiled the meaty claws and served them chilled with a secret mustard dipping sauce. Today only one pincer is removed from each stone crab, then the crab is tossed back into the ocean where it will regenerate the missing claw in about 2 years. The stone crabs, in addition to several other signature items, made Joe's a Miami hotspot, and these days Joe's restaurants can be found in Chicago and Las Vegas. Here is my take on Joe's amazing giant crab cakes, which are made from lump crab meat, and served as an appetizer or entree at the restaurant. Of course, you can't clone a Joe's crab dish without cloning the secret mustard sauce, so that recipe is here too.
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.
Menu Description: “Golden brown, chicken breast strips coated with crispy Japanese panko breadcrumbs with the extra crunch of toasted sesame seeds and tossed in our famous Jack Daniel's sauce.”
Although the original recipe is made from sliced chicken breasts, you may consider using the less chewy tenderloins in this kitchen copy. Packs of fresh chicken tenderloins are sold in most markets and you can also find bags of them in the freezer section. I’m a big fan of the more tender meat in the tenderloins, especially when it comes to chicken fingers. The breading is a simple combination of flour and panko (or Japanese bread crumbs). When the chicken fingers are done frying, gently toss them in the Jack Daniel’s glaze made from my recipe here, and you’ve got a great appetizer than can serve a half dozen finger food fanatics.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
Menu Description: "Chicken breasts lightly sautéed and topped with lemon butter sauce and capers."
Buca di Beppo's Chicken Limone was deliciously simple to reverse-engineer: I asked the server to check on what kind of dairy is used in the sauce and whether or not white wine is cooked into it. After getting the information I needed, I ordered the dish to go with the sauce on the side and got to work back in the lab. Several versions hit the sink as I unsuccessfully experimented with various amounts of wine, butter, and cream.
It was only after I decided to chill the lemon-butter sauce that I got the information that I needed. The sauce formed a firm solid in the fridge, which indicated that my recipe needed a lot more butter than first estimated. I made the proper adjustments and the sauce that sat in my pan was a perfect match that could surely stand up to a blindfolded taste test. The rest of the secret technique required pounding the chicken breasts until thin. This tenderized the chicken and made each piece the same size as the original. A quick sauté later, I was arranging the chicken on a serving platter, adding capers, spooning on plenty of sauce, and I had before me a beautiful culinary carbon copy indistinguishable from the real Buca di Beppo Chicken Limone.
Look at what F. W. Rueckheim started. He was the guy who, back in the late 1800s, made candy-coated popcorn a national treasure with the invention of Cracker Jack. Now we've got Fiddle-Faddle, Screaming Yellow Zonkers, Crunch 'n Munch so many other candy-coated popcorns. Sure, these other varieties don't have the traditional prize inside the box, but let's face it, those prizes are pretty weak compared to what used to be found at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jack when I was a kid.
The old-fashioned molasses formula used on Cracker Jack just doesn't have the appeal of some of the other tantalizing candy coatings on popcorn today. Butter toffee is a good example, so that's what I've reverse-engineered for you here. My Crunch 'N Munch buttery toffee popcorn recipe is simple and makes a finished product so tasty, you'll have to beg someone to take it away from you before you finish the whole bowl by yourself. All you need is a candy thermometer, some microwave popcorn, and a few other basic ingredients to re-create a home version of popcorn heaven.
Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.
When Arthur Karp shared his grandmother's favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with Michael Coles, the business partners knew they had a hit on their hands. They opened their first Great American Cookies store in 1977 in The Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, Georgia. Now with more than 350 stores in the chain, these cookies have quickly become a favorite, just begging to be cloned. The chain bakes the cookies in convection ovens at the low temperature of 280 degrees for around 16 to 17 minutes. But since most of us don't have convection ovens and may have a hard time getting the oven temperature to this odd setting, I have made some adjustments. Just be sure, when you remove the cookies from the oven, that they appear undercooked and only slightly browned around the edges. This will give the cookies the perfect chewy texture when they cool.
You might also like my recipe for Great American Snickerdoodles.
Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.TRANSLATE with xEnglishTRANSLATE with
Menu Description: "A tender boneless chicken breast marinated with lime juice and tequila flavors and grilled. Served on a bed of crisp tortilla strips. Topped with a Mexi-ranch and Cheddar-Jack cheese. Served with Southwest rice and pico de gallo."
Because of the huge success of this dish, Applebee's has recently changed the name to "Fiesta Lime Chicken," and trademarked the name. Many people still know this dish by its original title: Tequila Lime Chicken. Whatever you call it, my recipe very closely duplicates the successful dish from Applebee's.
When you're making my Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken recipe, just be sure not to marinate the chicken for much longer than the 2 to 3 hours specified, or the acid in the lime juice may toughen your chicken. The bed of crispy corn tortilla strips can be easily made by crumbling store-bought tortilla chips, or, if you want strips more closely resembling those served at the restaurant, just follow the Tidbits below.
Try my improved version in Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.
For over 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.