Todd Wilbur, author of "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2," revealed his recipes for re-creating your favorite dishes at home.
He brought Chili's Molten Chocolate Cake, Panera Bread's Spinach Artichoke Baked Souffle, and Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp, along with his versions of each. Then he asked the "Good Morning America" anchors to taste and try to tell the difference.
It's no surprise that they were stumped.
Here Wilbur shares his recipes with you:
Panera Bread's Baked Egg Souffles are delicious little gourmet Hot Pockets. Encased in buttery crescent dough is this top secret version of the egg, cheese, spinach and artichoke filling for a nice morning munchie that will impress everyone. And they're easier to make than they look, since we use pre-made Pillsbury Crescent dough.
Just make sure when you unroll the dough that you don't separate it into triangles. Instead you'll pinch the dough together along the diagonal perforations to make four rectangles. When the dough is rolled out, you can line four buttered ramekins with it, and then fill each one with the secret egg mixture.
This recipe clones the spinach artichoke souffle, but if you're a fan of the spinach and bacon version, check out the Tidbits below for that easy variation.
3 tablespoons frozen spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons minced artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons minced onion
1 teaspoon minced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce tube Pillsbury Crescent butter flake dough
¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine spinach, artichoke hearts, onion, and red bell pepper in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover bowl with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the plastic. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
Beat 4 eggs. Mix in milk, cream, cheddar cheese, Jack cheese, Parmesan, and salt. Stir in spinach, artichoke, onion, and bell pepper.
Microwave egg mixture for 30 seconds on high, and then stir it. Do this 4 to 5 more times or until you have a very runny scrambled egg mixture. This process will tighten up the eggs enough so that the dough won't sink into the eggs when it's folded over.
Unroll and separate the crescent dough into four rectangles. In other words, don't tear the dough along the perforations that make triangles. Instead, pinch the dough together along those diagonal perforations so that you have four rectangles. Use some flour on the dough and roll across the width of the rectangle with a rolling pin so that each piece of dough stretches out into a square that is approximately 6 inches by 6 inches.
Brush melted butter inside four 4-inch baking dishes or ramekins. Line each ramekin with the dough, then spoon equal amounts of egg mixture into each ramekin. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of asiago cheese on top of the egg mixture in each ramekin, and then gently fold the dough over the mixture.
Beat the last egg in a small bowl, then brush beaten egg over the top of the dough in each ramekin.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until dough is brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the soufflés from each ramekin and serve hot.
Tidbits: You can make the spinach and bacon version of this dish by substituting 4 pieces of cooked and crumbled bacon for the artichoke hearts. Simply leave the artichoke out of the recipe above, and then add the bacon to the egg mixture before you microwave it.
If you'd like to make bigger souffles, double up on all the filling ingredients, and bake the souffles in 6-inch ramekins. You will also have to extend the baking time by 5 minutes.
Bonefish Grill proudly refers to this appetizer as the "house specialty." And why not, it's an attractive dish with bang-up flavor, especially if you like your food on the spicy side. The heat comes from the secret sauce blend that's flavored with chili garlic sauce, also known as sambal. You can find this bright red sauce near the Asian foods in your market – and while you're there, pick up some rice vinegar.
Once the sauce is made, you coat the shrimp in a simple seasoned breading, fry them to a nice golden brown, toss them gently in the sauce, and then serve them up on a bed of mixed greens to hungry folks who, hopefully, have a cool drink nearby to mellow the sting.
½ cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (sambal sauce)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon rice vinegar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon rubbed (ground) sage
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried basil
8 to 12 cups vegetable shortening or oil
16 to 18 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 handful of mixed greens
1 green onion, chopped (green part only)
Combine all ingredients for chili sauce in a small bowl. Cover the sauce and set it aside for now.
Combine the beaten egg with milk in a shallow bowl. Mix flour, panko, salt, black pepper, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, and basil in another shallow bowl.
Heat shortening or oil to 350 degrees F. Use the amount of oil required by your fryer.
Bread the shrimp by first coating each with the breading. Dip breaded shrimp into the egg and milk mixture, and then back into the breading. Arrange the coated shrimp on a plate and pop them into the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This step will help the breading to stick on the shrimp when they are frying.
When your oil is hot, fry the shrimp for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on a rack or paper towels. When all of the shrimp have been fried, drop the shrimp into a large bowl. Spoon about ¼ cup of the sauce over the shrimp and stir gently to coat. Stack the shrimp on a bed of mixed greens, then sprinkle the stack with chopped green onion.
*Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer.
Tidbits: You can also make this dish several days ahead by following the directions up to the frying stage. But, instead of frying for 3 to 4 minutes, flash fry the shrimp for just 45 seconds, and then let them cool. Pop the shrimp into a zip top bag and into the freezer. When you want to make the dish, simply fry the shrimp for 3 minutes, or until brown, and then coat with the sauce and garnish as instructed in step #5.
Get out your "easy" button for this one. While the clone recipe for this top-requested Chili's dessert is extremely simple to make — and can even be made days ahead of time — the resulting presentation is impressive.
A chocolate fudge cake mix is all you need for the cake part of the recipe (or you can use the scratch clone recipe here). The cake batter is poured into the large cups of a Texas-size muffin pan. When the cakes are done and cooled, invert them and cut a cylindrical chunk out of the bottom where the hot chocolate is loaded. Keep the cakes covered in the fridge until dessert time.
To serve, nuke each cake for 45 seconds, plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, thereby concealing the fudge compartment, and top it off with a little Smucker's Magic Shell (a chocolate topping that hardens on ice cream). When your diners dig into the cake, a delicious hot fudge center oozes out of the warm chocolate cake, and you're launched up to superhero status.
1 18.25-ounce box chocolate fudge or dark chocolate cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 bottle Hershey hot fudge topping
8 scoops vanilla ice cream
Smucker's Magic Shell chocolate topping
Make cake batter following directions on the box and pour ½ cup of batter into the greased cups of a large (Texas size) muffin pan. If your pan has six cups, bake the cakes in two batches of 4 cakes each. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of one cake comes out clean. Turn all of the cakes out of the pan and let them cool.
The cakes will be served upside down, so you may have to slice a bit of the domed top of the cakes to help them lay flat when inverted. A serrated sandwich knife works best for this. After you've flipped over all of the cooled cakes, use a sharp paring knife to cut out a 1 ½-inch diameter cylindrical chunk in the center of the bottom (now the top) of each cake. The hole should be about 1 ½-inches deep. After slicing straight down into the cake in a circle, scoop out the chunk of cake with a teaspoon and discard the piece. Now you have a secret compartment to conceal the hot fudge payload.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of fudge into each of the holes you've made in the cakes, then store the cakes in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to serve, heat one cake at a time in the microwave for 40 to 45 seconds on high, or until you see the fudge begin to bubble. Remove the cake from the microwave and let it rest for 30 seconds or so, then place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the cake. Pour a coating of Magic Shell chocolate topping over the ice cream and serve.
*Makes 8 desserts
Check out topsecretrecipes.com for more.