Mini Mac & Cheese
I first made this recipe a couple of years ago for my annual holiday party. I’m always looking for tasty, small bites for that party. And I like having a few vegetarian options for those who prefer not to eat meat. These seemed like the perfect solution.
They were good but I thought they could be improved in a few ways. Since then I’ve made them a few times, changing and tweaking the recipe each time. This last weekend I made the recipe again and I really liked this version! You can find the original version here. But I think mine is much better!
Bite-size Mac and Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni – see notes
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/8 plus 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 garlic clove, mashed
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded – about 1 packed cup
4 ounces Gruyère, shredded – about 1 packed cup
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1/8 tsp Chipotle or Red Pepper powder
2 tsp fresh thyme, lightly chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped chives for garnish
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes or follow package instructions. Drain thoroughly, shaking off the excess water.
Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins (see notes) with butter. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of the Parmigiano from the 1/4 cup; tap out the excess.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and add the clove of garlic. Cook, whisking, until boiling, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the cheddar, Gruyère and 1/8 cup Parmigiano and whisk until melted.
Take the pan off the heat. Preheat the oven to 425°.
Remove the garlic clove, scraping off as much sauce as possible. Whisk in the egg yolk, paprika, Chipotle powder, fresh thyme, green onion, a couple good pinches of salt and a little freshly ground black pepper. Fold in the macaroni. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.
Spoon the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for about 15 minutes (see notes). Using a small spatula, carefully loosen the mini macs and transfer to a platter. Garnish with a little more Parmigiano and chopped chives and serve.
- If using macaroni choose a small version. You can substitute any small pasta. This time I used small shells.
- Do not use silicone pans. The mini macs will not brown properly and also will not hold together as well, once cooked.
- If you remove a mini mac from the pan and it won’t hold its shape it needs to cool a little longer.
- Once the mini macs are in the pans, they can be held in the refrigerator overnight.
- Last weekend I only baked one half of the recipe as mini macs. I put the extra in small ramekins and froze them for a future quick meal.