Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Most of us remember mac n’ cheese from the blue box as one of our first culinary triumphs. I remember helping when I was little and having such a feeling of accomplishment when the yellow powder melted into a creamy cheese-ish topping.
Have you had the blue box as an adult? Not as a college kid alternating between that and Ramen Noodles, but as a real working adult? You probably think I’m going to say that in retrospect, the blue box isn’t that great and our palates should be much more sophisticated by now, but I’m not. The blue box is still pretty awesome. Nothing beats a little nostalgia here and there…
But in all seriousness, homemade mac n’ cheese is super easy and takes only a few minutes longer than the boxed stuff. Not to mention it isn’t full of ingredients you can’t pronounce and you use real cheese as opposed to a weird smelling cheese-ish powder.
Don’t let homemade mac n’ cheese intimidate you. If you whisk your sauce constantly and don’t let it burn, you’re golden.
You can make this recipe as little bites, like I’ve done, or you can just throw it all into a casserole dish and make it a family style side dish. Little bites make for the perfect party food. They are even good room temperature. Yum!
Mac N’ Cheese Bites
Time: 20-25 min.
Servings: 48 mini macs
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. paprika
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni about 5 minutes. Drain pasta. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray. Sprinkle muffin cups with 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour over medium heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook, whisking constantly, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the drained macaroni.
Spoon macaroni into muffin cups.
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp. of Parmesan on top. Bake the mini macs in the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden. Let cool for 5 minutes. Yum!
– After sprinkling the cups with Parmesan, add a small crumble of bacon for extra flavor. Ham would work well, too!
– You can make the mac n’ cheese the day before and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to bake.