Mac & Cheese Bites
I wish I could tell you that I came up with these mini Mac & Cheese bites myself…I didn’t. Most recently, I saw them on a blog that I follow, & now I’m spreading the Mac & Cheese love (with a little Laura tweak or two). What’s not to love about Mac & Cheese, especially in the perfectly-cute bite size form?
Elbow macaroni is the classic macaroni & cheese shape. It works great here, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes for your mac & cheese recipes. For this recipe, I have used a mini penne shape, which worked perfectly, & this time I used gobetti, a larger elbow, available in my favorite Pasta Lensi pasta brand (as well as Target’s Giada pasta line).
Because I don’t have enough mini muffin pans, the first time I made these I tried making some in the regular sized muffin pans…not so much. They did not stay intact. Another lesson – make sure you let these cool about 5 min before removing from the pan (otherwise they, too, will fall apart). I also wanted to test out the ‘how to make in advance’ recommendation. It actually worked out fine. Complete all steps except for the last one. Refrigerate overnight & bake as directed the next day. I think my next guests now know what to expect as an appetizer…
1/2 LB short pasta
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp hickory smoked mustard, optional
3/4 cup skim milk
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk
hot sauce to taste, optional
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse.
- Meanwhile, lightly grease four 12-cup mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
- In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour & cook 2 min. Whisk in mustard & milk & cook, whisking until boiling, about 5 min. Slowly stir in cheese until melted.
- Remove from heat. Whisk in egg yolk & hot sauce (if desired). Fold in pasta. Spoon tablespoons of the mixture into the prepared muffin pans.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining Parmesan cheese, Panko bread crumbs & paprika. Sprinkle on top of mini macs.
- Bake mac & cheese bites on the top rack of the oven for 10 min or until bubbly. Let cool for 5 min before gently removing with a spoon.