Jennifer Reese
November 11, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

Top Secret Recipes Unlocked

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Todd Wilbur
publisher
Plume
genre
Cooking/Home, Nonfiction

We gave it a B

Leaving aside for a moment the question of why you’d ever want to, is it even possible to make a Krispy Kreme doughnut at home? What about Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese? A Starbucks scone? For the last 22 years, Todd Wilbur has tried to replicate brand-name recipes using ordinary supermarket ingredients (e.g., no xanthan gum), and has published the results in a series of amusingly earnest cookbooks. Wilbur argues that anyone can make ”clones” of store-bought dishes for ”a fraction of the cost of the real thing.” To test-drive his new opus, Top Secret Recipes Unlocked, we rounded up a panel of judges chosen for their healthy appreciation of junk food — and then we heated up a big pot of Crisco.

Although Wilbur promises the reader clones of brand-name food, in the recipes we tested here, he failed to deliver a single decent facsimile. This was simultaneously funny and kind of sad. His problem isn’t that the recipes he’s devised aren’t good enough, it’s that they’re too good. It appears to be all but impossible to make anything at home that is as expensive, stale, and artificialtasting as what you can buy. B

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