Do you love eating things that are bad for you? Do you ever wish you could make them yourself? Me neither! But I did it anyway.
It turns out there are tons of copycat recipes for store-bought foods out there, but it’s often hard to tell which ones are close to the original. Fortunately, I tried out three of them to put a dent in the trials.
Pop Tarts – 4/5 Shhhh’s
The concept here is simple: pie crust, filling, topping. This is the recipe I used, but it’s easy enough to swap out any filling you like (Nutella, anyone?). Overall, this recipe was successful. It was pretty easy to make and the results tasted like the real thing. The frosting had a strange, half-melted texture and artificial aftertaste, which I thought added authenticity, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend putting these in the toaster.
1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1/4 cup strawberry jam, divided
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon colored decorating sugar, or as needed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unroll the pie crusts, place on a lightly floured work surface, and roll the crusts slightly with a rolling pin to square the edges. Cut each crust into 8 equal-sized rectangles. Place about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jam in the center of 8 squares, and spread the jam out to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the pastry square. Top each with another pastry square, and use a fork to crimp the squares together, sealing in the jam. Use a knife to trim the pastries, if desired. Move the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets. Meanwhile, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl to make a spreadable frosting. Spread the cooled tarts with frosting and sprinkle with colored sugar.
Cheez-It Crackers – 2/5 Shhh’s
This recipe intrigued and excited me the most out of the three I tried, but it ended up being the most disappointing. The dough was hard to get to stick together, it was a pain cutting out 100 individual crackers, and they never actually got crispy despite the fact that I baked them for an extra five minutes. They do taste almost exactly like store-bought Cheez-It crackers, but the texture leaves something to be desired.
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening*
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons ice water
Coarse salt for sprinkling
Combine cheese, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The mixture will be crumbly.
Slowly add flour and then the ice water. You may add a few more drops of water to help it come together but be careful not to add too much. You don’t want a wet dough.
Pat the dough into 2 discs and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (or longer).
Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
Using parchment paper or a silicone mat roll each disc to 1/8 inch or less and cut into 1 inch squares (a pastry wheel or pizza wheel is easiest). Use a toothpick to punch a hole into the center of each square.
If you have difficulty separating and transferring the crackers onto the baking sheet return the parchment paper/mat to the refrigerator for 10 minutes (while you roll out the 2nd dough disc).
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges. If you pull them out too soon and the crackers don’t have the desired crispiness you want then simply return them to the oven for 2-3 more minutes.
Move crackers to a cooling rack. Makes about 7 dozen crackers.
Hot Pockets – 5/5 Shhh’s
I had a lot of trouble coming up with a recipe I liked for pizza Hot Pockets, but I eventually settled on this one because it seemed easy and fast. I used pre-made pizza dough instead of piecrust because I like the texture more. I also added a topping to the pockets before baking them:
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients and brush over each hot pocket. You may have to scoop the cheese onto them with a spoon, but just be sure to spread it out evenly over the top.
1 pre-made pie crust, thawed and rolled flat
1/2 cup pepperoni slices
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Transfer the pie crusts to a lightly floured surface and cut it into 2×3 rectangles. It is easiest to measure the pieces with a ruler, score the crust with a knife and cut it with a pizza cutter.
- Spoon about 2 teaspoons of pizza sauce followed by 2 to 3 pepperoni and a large pinch of mozzarella onto one of the rectangles, leaving about 1/4 inch of space before the edge. Use a cookie cutter or paring knife to cut out fun shapes in the second rectangle. Then place the cut out rectangle over the jam and seal the edges together with the tines of a fork. Baking on a cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, then allow to cool.
I’ll admit that I’ve never actually eaten a Hot Pocket, so I can’t speak for how close they tasted to the original, but they sure were tasty.
I’d never recommend secret recipes to anyone who isn’t committed to a full day of minor disappointments, but if you love trial-and-error cooking, secret recipes may be your thing.