In "The Doritos Effect," author Mark Schatzker discusses the complex flavor profile that makes snack foods like Doritos and Coca-Cola irresistible.
Everybody knows what Coca-Cola should taste like, but it’s very difficult to isolate exactly what’s going on. Do we taste a little bit of vanilla? A hint of lime? Maybe some cinnamon?
It's the same with Doritos, which are at once cheesy, garlicky, peppery, and packed with umami. Your brain can’t completely process their taste—which means it's easy to consume large quantities without ever getting sick of that elusive nacho-cheesier flavor.
We decided to try to recreate this effect in our Test Kitchen.
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And after a little trial and error, we came up with a version of the addictive tortilla chip snack that's pretty easy to make. Best of all, it only requires a few ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your fridge and spice rack: Parmesan cheese, chile powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt. (Okay, and tomato powder, which you most likely don't have lying around, but it's optional and the chips will still come out great without it.)
Here's how to do it:
Finely grind 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. tomato powder (optional) in a spice mill.