; How to Make Tastykake Chocolate Cupcakes | Top Secret Recipes
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Tastykake Chocolate Cupcakes copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur

Tastykake Chocolate Cupcakes

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In 1914 the founders of the Tasty Baking Company created "the cake that made Mother stop baking." Tastykake products remain popular today with millions of snack cakes shipping across the country every day. And the recipes have remained remarkably unchanged over the years. These chocolate cupcakes in several varieties are the company's top-selling item, with more than 7 million baked weekly.

Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

Get This

Cupcakes
  • One 18.25-ounce box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil's Food cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cups water
Chocolate Icing
  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Buttercream Icing
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
Filling
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Do This

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Make the cupcakes according to the directions on the box of cake mix. (Combine the ingredients, mix for 2 minutes, pour into lightly greased muffin cups, and bake for 19 to 22 minutes.)

3. While the cupcakes bake, make the chocolate and/or buttercream icings.

Chocolate icing: In a mixing bowl, combine the butter with the chocolate chips melted in a microwave set on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Blend in the vanilla, milk, and powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

Buttercream icing: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

4. If you're making the filled cupcakes, combine the ingredients for the filling in another mixing bowl and beat until fluffy.

5. When the cupcakes are cool, complete each by following the directions below for your preference.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Chocolate-Iced Cupcakes
First spread a layer of chocolate frosting on each cupcake. Then, using a pastry bag with a small, round tip, draw a single straight line of buttercream icing down the middle of the chocolate icing.

Buttercream-Iced Cupcakes
First spread a layer of buttercream icing evenly over the top of each cupcake. Then, using a pastry bag with a small, round tip, draw a straight line of chocolate icing down the middle of the buttercream icing.

Creme-Filled Cupcakes
If it's filled cupcakes you want, you need to fill them before you spread on the frosting. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to make a hole in the top of the unfrosted cupcake. Stick the toothpick into the middle of the cupcake and then swirl it around to carve out a cavity in the middle of the cake. This is where the filling will go. Use a pastry bag to inject a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of filling into each cupcake, to fill the hole. When you ice your cupcakes the hole will be concealed.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Tony Roma's Blue Ridge Smokies Sauce

    Of the four fabulous barbecue sauces served on the delicious ribs at Tony Roma's, this is the only one that wasn't cloned in the third book, Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. This sweet, smoky sauce is great on baby back ribs cooked with the Tony Roma's clone technique found on page 298 of that book or in recipes here on the site: for Chili's Baby Back Ribs here, and for Roadhouse Grill Baby Backs here. Or use the sauce on a recipe of your own for pork or beef ribs, even chicken. Now Tony Roma's sells each of its sauces at the restaurant chain, separately, or in gift sets. But if you don't have a Tony Roma's close by, or you just like to dabble, this is a good way to get great pro barbecue taste at home.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.89 (votes: 219)
    Wendy's Chili

    Dave Thomas, Wendy's late founder, started serving this chili in 1969, the year the first Wendy's opened its doors. Over the years, the recipe has changed a bit, but my Wendy's copycat chili recipe is a great version of the one served in the early 90s. Try topping it with some chopped onion and Cheddar cheese, just as you can request in the restaurant.

    Now, on to the Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning copycat recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Nestle Baby Ruth Candy Bar

    Beneath the chocolate of Nestle's popular candy bar is a chewy, peanut-covered center that resembles Hershey's PayDay. To clone this one we'll only have to make a couple adjustments to the PayDay clone recipe, then add the milk chocolate coating. Even though the wrapper of this candy bar calls the center "nougat," it's more of a white or blonde fudge that you can make in a saucepan on your stovetop with a candy thermometer.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.71 (votes: 14)
    El Pollo Loco Flame-Broiled Chicken

    El Pollo Loco, or "The Crazy Chicken," has been growing like mad since it crossed over the border into the United States from Mexico. Francisco Ochoa unknowingly started a food phenomenon internacional in 1975 when he took a family recipe for chicken marinade and opened a small roadside restaurante in Gusave, Mexico. He soon had 90 stores in 20 cities throughout Mexico. The first El Pollo Loco in the United States opened in Los Angeles in December 1980 and was an immediate success. It was only three years later that Ochoa got the attention of bigwigs at Dennys, Inc., who offered him $11.3 million for his U.S. operations. Ochoa took the deal, and El Pollo Loco grew from 17 to more than 200 outlets over the following decade.

    Pair my El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken recipe below with my copycat recipes for El Pollo Loco avocado salsa, pinto beans, Spanish rice, and bbq black beans.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.67 (votes: 3)
    Peter Paul Mounds and Almond Joy

    At the train station in Naugatuck, Connecticut, candy and ice-cream shop owner Peter Paul Halajian used to meet the commuter trains carrying baskets full of fresh hand-made chocolates. The most popular of his candies was a blend of coconut, fruits, nuts, and chocolate that he called Konabar.

    In 1919, when demand for his confections grew, Halajian and five associates, all of Armenian heritage, opened a business in New Haven to produce and sell his chocolates on a larger scale. Because there were no refrigerators, they made the chocolate by hand at night, when the air was the coolest, and sold the candy during the day. In 1920 the first Mounds bar was introduced.

    Peter Paul merged with Cadbury U.S.A. in 1978, and in 1986 Cadbury U.S.A. merged with the Hershey Foods Corporation, now the world's largest candy conglomerate.

    Today the recipes for Peter Paul's Mounds and Almond Joy are the same as they were in the roaring twenties.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Chick-fil-A Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette

    The country’s largest chicken chain offers some of the best choices for salad dressings you’ll find at any fast food restaurant. But good luck sweet-talking your order-taker into floating you a few extra packets of this great fruity vinaigrette to use on your home salads—they are under strict orders to be stingy. And that could be why you’re here.

    Apple cider vinegar, pineapple juice, honey, lemon juice, and lime juice are just a few of the secret ingredients that make the Chick-fil-A Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette so great. Another secret you'll find here is xanthan gum, a natural thickener often used as an emulsifier to hold salad dressing together so that it doesn’t need shaking. You can find xanthan online or at Whole Foods, and you won't need much.

    Now, how about some Chick-Fil-A Mac & Cheese or a chicken sandwich? Check out more Chick-Fil-A copycat recipes here.  

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    McDonald's Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles

    It was the creator of Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Pizza who came up with the idea to cook bits of maple syrup into small pancakes for a new sweet-and-savory breakfast sandwich offering from the world’s #1 fast food chain. Tom Ryan’s idea became a reality in 2003 when the McGriddles—with maple-flavored griddle cake buns—debuted on McDonald’s breakfast menu, and the sandwich is still selling like hotcakes today.

    To make four homemade McGriddles, you’ll first need to produce eight perfectly round griddle cakes that are infused with sweet maple bits. Recipes that instruct you to make hard candy from maple syrup for this hack will fail to tell you that the shattered shards of hard candy don't completely melt when the griddle cakes are cooked resulting in a distinct crunch not found in the real McDonald’s product. Also, breaking the hard maple candy into small uniform chunks is both difficult and messy. My solution was to make a flavorful maple gummy puck that could be neatly petite diced and sprinkled into the batter as it cooks.  

    Just be sure to use maple flavoring rather than maple extract for the maple gummy. Maple flavoring has a more intense flavor than the extract, and the dark brown caramel coloring will make your maple bits look like pancake syrup. You’ll also need one or two 3½-inch rings to make griddle cakes that are the perfect size for your clones.

    This recipe duplicates the bacon version of the sandwich, but you can replace the bacon with a patty made from breakfast sausage for the sausage version, or just go with egg and cheese.

    Get more of my McDonald's copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 4)
    Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes

    Garlic mashed potatoes are a great side for many entrees, especially when the mashed potatoes are as creamy and flavorful as those at Olive Garden. In our hack, the cloves of peeled garlic are boiled with the potatoes. When the potatoes get passed through a potato ricer (or mashed) the softened garlic cloves go along for the ride and get mashed up too. This way you’re guaranteed to get the perfect amount of flavorful garlic in every bite.

    I settled on cream as the dairy 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 to Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes. 

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

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    Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Denny's Buttermilk Pancakes

    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 together a standard waffle cone recipe with one of mine for buttermilk pancakes and was able to create the perfect recipe for Denny’s new, improved buttermilk 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.

    My Denny's Buttermilk Pancakes recipe makes eight big 6-inch pancakes, which you will form by measuring 1/2 cup of batter onto 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 a time, which will take a little longer. And that’s why they invented mimosas.

    Looking for more Denny's copycat recipes? You can find them here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    P.F. Chang's Chicken in Soothing Lettuce Wraps (Improved)

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked spiced chicken served with cool lettuce cups."

    While working on the formula for P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps, I discovered that there were several ways I could improve the clone recipe for the Chicken Wraps that I published in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. I've now perfected the flavor of the stir-fry with the addition of mirin (a sweetened sake syrup) and oyster sauce, both of which you can find in your market where the Asian foods are stocked. The "special sauce" that you spoon over your wraps has also been tweaked and perfected. And fnally, after reducing the amount of chicken from two breasts fillets to just one, I think this new and improved version of P.F. Chang's most popular dish is the absolute best clone it can be. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Olive Garden Dipping Sauces for Breadsticks

    Menu Description: "Freshly prepared alfredo or marinara sauce, served warm." 

    The soft breadsticks served at Olive Garden (here's my clone) taste awesome by themselves, but dunk them in one of these warm sauces and...fahgeddaboutit. You can use these clones as dipping sauces or pour them over the pasta of your choice to duplicate a variety of entree items available at the chain. Use the alfredo sauce over Fettuccine and you get Fettuccine Alfredo. Pour the marinara sauce on Linguine and you've cloned Olive Garden's Linguine alla Marinara. Make up your own dishes adding sausage, chicken or whatever you have on hand for an endless variety of Italian grub.

    Find more of your favorite copycat recipes from Olive Garden here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 14)
    KFC Grilled Chicken

    It took chefs several years to develop what would eventually become KFC's most clucked about new product launch in the chain's 57-year history. With between 70 to 180 calories and four to nine grams of fat, depending on the piece, the new un-fried chicken is being called "KFC's second secret recipe," and "a defining moment in our brand's storied history" in a company press release. The secret recipe for the new grilled chicken is now stored on an encrypted computer flash drive next to the Colonel's handwritten original fried chicken recipe in an electronic safe at KFC company headquarters. Oprah Winfrey featured the chicken on her talk show and gave away so many coupons for free grilled chicken meals that some customers waited in lines for over an hour and half, and several stores ran out and had to offer rain checks. Company spokesperson Laurie Schalow told the Associated Press that KFC has never seen such a huge response to any promotion. "It's unprecedented in our more than 50 years," she said. "It beats anything we've ever done."

    When I heard about all the commotion over this new secret recipe I immediately locked myself up in the underground lab with a 12-piece bucket of the new grilled chicken, plus a sample I obtained of the proprietary seasoning blend, and got right to work. After days of nibbling through what amounts to a small flock of hens, I'm happy to bring you this amazing cloned version of this fast food phenomenon so that you can now reproduce it in your own kitchen. Find the smallest chicken you can for this KFC grilled chicken copycat recipe, since KFC uses young hens. Or better yet save some dough by finding a small whole chicken and cut it up yourself. The secret preparation process requires that you marinate (brine) your chicken for a couple hours in a salt and MSG solution. This will make the chicken moist all of the way through and give it great flavor. After the chicken has brined, it's brushed with liquid smoke-flavored oil that will not only make the seasoning stick to the chicken, but will also ensure that the chicken doesn't stick to the pan. The liquid smoke in the oil gives the chicken a smoky flavor as if it had been cooked on an open flame barbecue grill.

    The grilled chicken at KFC is probably cooked on ribbed metal plates in specially designed convection ovens to get those grill marks. I duplicated that process using an oven-safe grill pan, searing the chicken first on the stovetop to add the grill marks, then cooking the chicken through in the oven. If you don't have a grill pan or a grill plate, you can just sear the chicken in any large oven safe saute pan. If you have a convection function on your oven you should definitely use it, but the recipe will still work in a standard oven with the temperature set just a little bit higher. After baking the chicken for 20 minutes on each side, you're ready to dive into your own 8-piece bucket of delicious indoor grilled chicken that's as tasty as the fried stuff, but without all the fat.

    Check out the video demonstration of this recipe.

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

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  • Score: 4.60 (votes: 10)
    Red Robin Campfire Sauce

    Red Robin is known for great gourmet hamburgers and tasty cocktail concoctions, but the 400-plus-unit chain also serves a huge tower of onion rings that comes with a side of this creamy, sweet-and-smoky dipping sauce. An Internet search revealed a few clues about what might be mixed into this mystery Red Robin onion ring sauce, but the complete culinary conundrum was yet to be solved. A mixture of mayonnaise and barbecue sauce was a good starting point, but with so many varieties of barbecue sauce on the market, I had to figure out which came closest to the flavor of the original Campfire Sauce. So, I went back to Red Robin, obtained a sample of the barbecue sauce they use, and conducted a side-by-side taste test of all the major brands on the market. After more spoonfuls of straight barbecue sauce than any human should consume at one sitting, I finally concluded that Bull's Eye Brown Sugar and Hickory comes the closest to the sauce used at the restaurant. A little more experimentation with this sauce, some mayonnaise and a couple of other ingredients, and I eventually had an awesome re-creation of the delicious dipping sauce that can be served with home-baked onion rings, poppers, French fries, or as a really great hamburger spread. Mission accomplished.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Outback Steakhouse Mashed Sweet Potatoes

    This special side may not always be on the menu at your local Outback Steakhouse. If it's not, use tmy Outback Steakhouse sweet potato copycat recipe to satisfy your craving. The butter, sugar and spices added to the baked and mashed sweet potatoes make this dish great with salmon, chicken, turkey, and pork; and it rocks as a holiday feast side. It's so sweet and rich that it could double as pie filling. And just check out the amazing finishing touch: pecans, corn flakes and oats mixed with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for a streusel-like crunchy topping, that you'll want to eat by the spoonful.

    Find more incredible copycat recipes for famous side dishes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

     

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    Flemings Prime Steakhouse Wicked Cajun Barbecue Shrimp

    Before diving into a juicy steak, many diners start their meal with this dish, the number one appetizer at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. This small Cajun-style scampi appetizer requires four large shrimp, just as in the original dish, but you can bump that up to 6 shrimp for a slightly bigger serving.

    Find more cool copycat recipes for Fleming's signature dishes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 9)
    Cheesecake Factory Thai Lettuce Wraps

    Menu Description: "Create your own Thai lettuce rolls! Satay chicken strips, carrots, bean sprouts, coconut curry noodles and lettuce leaves with three delicious spicy Thai sauces—peanut, sweet red chili and tamarind-cashew."

    Cheesecake Factory's #1 appetizer is finally fauxed, and I've got every secret component for an impressive knockoff here in one recipe: delicious duplicates of the three amazing dipping sauces, perfect sweet-and-sour cucumber slices, and an easy coconut curry marinade clone for the chicken that also doubles as a sauce for the noodles. Get ready to blow everyone away when you unveil this build-it-yourself Thai-inspired lettuce wrap kit at the table. The final dish will serve twice as many people as the restaurant version, and you'll most likely have enough leftover sauces to serve it again if you want to get more chicken.

    Click here for more amazing Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.20 (votes: 5)
    Cheesecake Factory Famous Factory Meatloaf

    Filled with carrots, onions, garlic, bell peppers, and herbs—this is definitely one of the tastiest meatloaves I've cloned so far, and it's one of Cheesecake Factory's signature dishes. While most meatloaf creations are coated with a tomato-based sauce, such as ketchup or barbecue sauce, this one is doused with rich mushroom gravy, and then topped with a pile of caramelized onions (those secret formulas are included here as well). This recipe will yield exactly three ginormous dinner-size portions—that's three thick slices of meatloaf at the restaurant. But you could easily fill the bellies of four or more famished folks with more reasonable serving sizes.

    Now, what's for dessert

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Red Lobster Maple-Glazed Salmon and Shrimp

    Menu Description: "A Pacific Northwest-inspired combination of fresh salmon and skewered jumbo shrimp, fire-grilled and topped with a maple and cherry glaze. Served over wild rice pilaf with fresh asparagus."

    Whenever a recipe calls for maple syrup, make sure you use the real deal and not the maple-flavored corn syrups that come in plastic squirt bottles, like Aunt Jemima and Log Cabin. Sure, authentic maple syrup is more expensive than the imitation stuff, and it must be refrigerated after opening, but true maple taste is worth the extra ka-ching. Real maple flavor dominates this sweet glaze, but you'll also notice a nice citrusy note and perfect soy saltiness—it all works really well with salmon and shrimp, and even chicken if you feel like it. Since Red Lobster's executive chef Michael LaDuke added this dish to the menu in July 2007, it's been a big winner for the seafood chain. Now you can add this winning taste to your own repertoire. The clone here is a super simple one, with only 6 ingredients for the glaze, including dried cherries which you should find near the raisins and dried cranberries in your market. You can make the sauce several days ahead of time if you like, and store it, covered, in the fridge until you bring home the perfect salmon fillets.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Chili's Cajun Ribeye

    Menu Description: "12 oz. ribeye steak seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with roasted herb jus and spicy Cajun butter."

    Three secret formulas must be hacked before we can consider this dish a complete culinary carbon copy of Chili's signature Cajun Ribeye. The Cajun seasoning, the herb jus and the Cajun butter comprise the flavorful hat trick that earns this dish its signature-item status. We'll make each component from scratch and everything is pretty easy. Sprinkle the seasoning on the steak before it's grilled, and then add the jus and herb butter just before serving. That's it. Rustle up some ribeyes from your favorite butcher, and fire up the grill. Once you've assembled these three simple secret recipes below, you're just minutes away from an impressive, flavor-filled steak.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.61 (votes: 18)
    Spatini Spaghetti Sauce Mix

    Since the Spatini Italian Foods Company discontinued production and sale of its spaghetti sauce mix in December 2006, Internet discussion groups have organized petitions pleading to bring the product back. For more than forty years generations of families have enjoyed spaghetti made by mixing a packet of top secret powder with canned tomato sauce. But after Spatini disappeared from grocery store shelves, the only way to get that same flavor on spaghetti required locating leftover stock on the Internet, and paying dearly for it. On eBay, 10-box lots of Spatini sold for up to ten times what they originally cost in stores. Now you can save your hard-earned lira and still get real Spatini flavor, because after analyzing a packet of the mix, I've discovered a great way to clone this "Dead Food" at less cost than the product's retail price. The secret ingredient is a crushed-up beef bouillon cube, which contains the precise quantity of salt and natural flavors, plus autolyzed yeast extract—a flavor enhancer—to mirror the original blend. Add a couple ground herbs, onion, garlic, powdered sugar, and cornstarch, and you'll have the exact amount of mix you need to recreate the spaghetti sauce you grew up with.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.73 (votes: 15)
    Applebee's Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl

    Menu Description: "Breaded boneless chicken breast is delicately spiced and covered in a spicy-sweet orange glaze. Served in a big bowl over almond rice pilaf and a flavorful mixture of mushrooms, broccoli, red pepper, sugar snap peas, and shredded carrots. Topped with toasted almonds and crispy noodles."

    In a dish like this, it's important to get the sauce tasting just right or the whole hack will be off. Simmering a secret blend of orange juice, brown sugar, marmalade, and few other ingredients will give you a sauce that's sweet, tangy, spicy and really, really freakin' good. Rather than going to the trouble of breading and frying the chicken from scratch, I've cut time off your prep by including frozen breaded chicken fingers that you simply bake in the oven when you're ready to assemble the dish. I used Claim Jumper brand chicken tenderloins for this recipe since one 20-ounce box was perfect for the two servings this recipe yields. However, these are mongo-huge restaurant-size portions, so you'll be able to divide this recipe up into four more modest servings if you like.

    Make more of your favorite dishes from Applebee's. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

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.

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