Update, 2/28/2013 -
So, if you haven't already seen it in a more recent post, a friend and I are starting a spice blend company, one in which we'll be selling my Tostitos® With Hint Of Lime clone. We came up with the idea for the spice company fairly recently, like 5 months ago or so, and in the process, I thought that this could be one of the blends we'd carry. The thing is, when you're talking about selling a commercial product to the general public it kind of requires you to up your game a little, especially when your standards are higher than average already. So I revisited the recipe to make sure it was as good as I'd remembered (I hadn't made any in awhile). And while I've always been 100% happy with the recipe as listed here, when I tried it with the goal in mind of selling it commercially, it felt like it needed some work. So I tweaked it a tiny little bit, and now, after much taste-testing by me, my business partner, and my coworkers, we feel like it's really ready for Prime Time. The new recipe is not far off from this one at all (we added an anti-caking agent and don't use MSG, even though we both feel it's negative image is vastly overstated), but, for business reasons, I can't really post it here. However, that's not at all to say that this is not a good recipe or close approximation of the commercial stuff. I think it's both, and I leave it here as-is for anyone who loves the commercial stuff as much as I do (or did, until I started making my own). It's not quite as good as the new formula, but it is pretty damn good, and it's also a good starting point for messing around with your own formula, if you're so inclined. (If you're not, I'll be linking to a pretty good new spice company on my front page here soon, where you can buy an excellent clone!)
Tostitos® With Hint Of Lime- pretty much my favorite chip ever (Keystone Snacks used to make a jalapeño tortilla chip back in the 80's- that was actually (gasp!) hot- that was my favorite chip ever, but seeing as they apparently no longer make them, and seeing as I've come up with my own jalapeño-lime variety, the Tostitos® With Hint Of Lime takes the top spot for me now. I hardly ever buy them anymore though, because if I do I have to eat the whole 13 oz. bag in one sitting. Can't stop myself like I can with most other chips (paired with a little Huy Fong Chili-Garlic sauce, which I buy by the gallon, on the side? Heaven). So I probably shouldn't have tried coming up with my own recipe to make them at home. But I did anyway. And y'know what? It's pretty damn good. Surprisingly, it came out on the very first try- no tweaking at all.
Here's the ingredient list:
3/4 c. sour cream powder
1/2 c. + 1T whey powder
1/4 c. + 1t lime juice powder
1T m.s.g. (Optional, I guess. But I really like the stuff, and haven't taste-tested the chips without it, so can't say what/if there's a difference.)
2t salt (I used kosher, as always, but ground it to a powder in my mortar and pestle.)
That's pretty much it- just mix up all of that and you're good to go. Quarter up some corn tortilla chips and deep-fry in small batches until they're done and douse liberally with the stuff. As far as I'm concerned, the taste is almost identical to the store-bought stuff. Other folks might not think so, but I think it's so close that I have no plans to try and tweak the recipe. The main difference that I notice is the texture. The texture of the chip is obviously different, being made at home and all. Not quite as crispy and brittle as the commercial ones, but I can't figure out how to get them that way (not that I care, I think they're fine the way they are). But the other main difference (besides the fact that the homemade ones don't have little green specks like the commercial ones do) is the texture of the seasoning. The commercial variety is more granular than what you'll get with this recipe. I prefer it that way myself, but until I can find a more granular sour cream powder (not likely) I don't see any way to change things. No matter, I'm happy with the result. If you happen to like the commercial variety, give these a try. I think you'll like them too.
Here's where you can find the stuff, if you don't already know:
Sour cream powder can be had at Perfect Pantry ($9/lb.)
Whey powder I got through MySpicer ($3.68/lb.)
Lime juice powder I got through Spice Barn, though The Great American Spice Company has it too, but it's more expensive ~$10/lb. vs. $7 at Spice Barn. The only difference that I can see between the two is on the ingredients list- GAS lists only 100% lime juice. SB lists 'corn syrup solids, lime juice, and lime oil.' I've tasted both directly from the container and can't tell the difference, so in the future I plan on staying with SB, as long as they're cheaper. (All prices were listed were current at the time of this writing.)
(This is the store-bought variety. See those little green specks? They kind of trouble me. What the hell are they? My lime juice powder is nowhere near that green. None of the ingredients listed on the bag say anything about 'green food coloring,' only red and blue. There's no parsley flakes listed. Nothing. 'Natural flavors,' maybe? Like what?! Well, no matter- I'll still eat them (occasionally). They're just too damn good.)