Have you ever wanted to make your favorite restaurant recipe in your kitchen? With Todd Wilbur’s Secret Recipes, now you can have the secret recipes to your favorite dishes at your fingertips.
Todd Wilbur doesn’t just copy the recipes, he actually deconstructs the restaurant recipe by the ingredients, and reconstructs them until he gets it just right. Only then does he show you how to make these recipes yourself, so you can impress your family and friends.
I know what you’re thinking, Todd Wilbur must be a classically trained chef, right? No, he’s a food hacker. He has created a complete food lab with ovens, microwaves, blenders and scales to perfectly deconstruct each recipe.
Todd was even asked in an interview if he has been threatened with lawsuits by the food chains, for exposing their secret restaurant recipes. On the contrary, they’re quite flattered if they have made it in to one of his 11 cookbooks. He has been invited to the restaurant kitchens and given the right ingredient or amount if he doesn’t have it exactly right.
1. Make the cake in a 13×9-inch baking pan following instructions on the box of cake mix, but add cherry extract to the mix (Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; mix cake mix, water, oil, eggs, and cherry extract together in a large bowl; pour batter into pan greased generously with shortening.). Bake at 350 F for 25 to 35 minutes. When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool completely.
2. When cake is cool, make buttercream frosting by first whipping the soft butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add two cups of the powdered sugar, mix well, then add remaining powdered sugar. Add 1/4 cup of whole milk and vanilla, then mix on high speed for 2 minutes or until frosting is smooth and creamy.
3. Turn the chocolate lasagna out of the pan onto wax paper. Using both hands, carefully flip the cake over, so that it’s right side up, onto another strip of wax paper. Now you’re going to cut through the cake twice, creating three layers.
We’ll start at the bottom slice. First slide the cake over to the edge of your kitchen counter. This way you can drop your hand with the knife down below the counter at the edge to get a nice, straight cut through the cake. Using a long bread knife or other long serrated knife, cut through the bottom third of the cake.
Spin the cake and wax paper so that you can cut through all sides (your knife probably won’t get all the way through to the other side). When the cake is sliced, carefully flip the top section over onto the other sheet of wax paper. Frost the bottom layer of cake with approximately 1/3 of the buttercream frosting.
Break the chilled semi-sweet chocolate into little bits that are a tad smaller than chocolate chips. A good way to do this is to put the chilled chocolate into a large zip-top bag, then use the handle of a butter knife to smash the unsuspecting chocolate into pieces. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the chocolate bits over the frosting on the bottom layer.
4. Turn the top section back over onto the bottom layer. Again, slice through the top section creating the final two layers. Carefully flip the top over onto the wax paper, and frost the new layer as you did with the first layer, adding chocolate bits as well. You may, at this point, wish to slice the top into thirds across the width of the cake. This makes flipping over the top layer much easier. It’s also how you’re going to slice the cake later, so you’ll never see the cuts. Any cracks or breaks are no big deal since you’ll just cover up the goofs with frosting.
5. Carefully reassemble the top section on the rest of the cake. If you have a large bulge in the center of the cake, you may wish to slice that off so that the cake is flatter on top. Throw that slice away. Frost the top of the cake with the remaining frosting, then sprinkle on the remaining chocolate bits.
6. The cake is served as triangular slices. So, slice it up by first cutting through the middle of the cake, lengthwise. Next cut across the cake through the middle (widthwise) twice. Now you have six slices that just need to be cut from corner to corner one time each, creating 12 triangular slices. Chill any cake you don’t eat that day.
Makes 12 servings.
1. Combine the corn syrup, sugars, butter, maple syrup, water, and salt in a large saucepan and place it over medium heat. Simmer the mixture and monitor it with a candy thermometer.
Your target temperature is 290 degrees F, or just before the hard crack stage. The temperature continues to rise a bit after you turn off the heat, so this is a good place to stop cooking.
2. While the candy cooks, pop the popcorn in the microwave and measure out 8 cups of popcorn. Make sure to remove any unpopped kernels. Pour the popcorn into a large microwave-safe glass bowl. Measure the nuts of your choice into a glass measuring cup. Just before the candy reaches 290 degrees F, microwave the nuts in the measuring cup on high for 1 minute to warm them up.
3. When your candy hits 290 degrees F, turn off the heat, add the vanilla, and stir in the warm nuts. Immediately microwave the bowl of popped popcorn for 1 minute on high, then pour the candy and nuts mixture over the popcorn while stirring.
Microwave the bowl for 1 more minute on high, then stir well to coat the popcorn and nuts with candy. You may want to go back into the microwave for an additional minute since the candy will begin to harden quickly. Stir well to coat all of the popcorn, then quickly pour the popcorn out onto wax paper or a silicone non-stick mat.
4. When the popcorn has cooled, break it up and put it into a tightly sealed container to keep it fresh. This stuff gets sticky and stale pretty quickly in moist climates.
Makes 10 cups.
To use your oven rather than the microwave to coat the popcorn and nuts, preheat it to 275 degrees F while the candy is cooking. Pour the nuts on a large buttered baking sheet. When the candy reaches 290 degrees F, add the vanilla, then stir the warm nuts into the candy.
Spread the popcorn on the baking sheet, drizzle with the hot candy syrup, and stir. Put the popcorn back into the oven for 5 minutes, then take it out and stir to coat. Repeat if necessary, pour onto wax paper or a silicone mat, then go to step #4.
Wendy’s burger chain is as well known for their chili as they are for their square shaped hamburgers, the namesake of the founder’s daughter.
1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, drain off the fat.
2. Using a fork or potato masher, crumble the cooked beef into pea-size pieces.
3. In a large pot or a slow cooker, combine the beef plus all the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours. If using a slow cooker, cook 6-8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
Makes about 12 servings.
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