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Baked Mac And Cheese

October 11, 2014

12 Comments

Homemade, baked mac and cheese is 100% worth the effort. And it’s not a lot of effort.

Baked Mac And Cheese - 2Teaspoons Tap any photo to Pin

I didn’t realize how much better the homemade, baked mac and cheese was until the first time I set out to make it. Ever since, I’ve been astounded and delighted with just how surprisingly easy and delicious every batch is.

Baked Mac And Cheese - 2Teaspoons

Picture the texture with me for moment. Soft pasta covered in a warm, creamy cheese sauce. And topped with a layer of crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs.

Baked Mac And Cheese - 2Teaspoons

And the flavor! I added nutmeg, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Nutmeg is a great, versatile spice. I often use it in cream sauces to make them richer. The mustard and cayenne pepper add a little bit of spice to cut through the rich, creamy sauce, while not actually making the mac and cheese taste mustardy or spicy. It just tastes cheesier somehow. Trust me, you’ll just have to try it.

Baked Mac And Cheese - 2Teaspoons

The hardest part is stirring the milk and cream into the sauce. And I think we can all handle stirring, right? When you get to the step about stirring, remember you’re making sure the milk stays mixed in with the rest of the sauce. Just keep stirring, you’re doing great!

Baked Mac And Cheese - 2Teaspoons

I love cheddar cheese. Especially when you get the aged kinds that have those hard little crystal explosions of flavor in them. Mmmmm. So I just had to include cheddar (although not the aged kind) in the recipe. But cheddar is actually not a great melting cheese (the oils in it can easily separate and make it hard to produce that rich, creamy, melted cheese texture), so I decided to use cheddar for one half of the cheese, and a great melting cheese for the other. Melting cheeses that I love include mozzarella, (I always say mozzarella with an Italian accent. It’s a problem I know), gruyere (which is a Swiss cheese, and I really don’t know how to do a Swiss accent), and provolone (just as delicious, but not as much fun to say as mozzarella!). Using only cheddar cheese will work too, I’ve done it plenty of times, but the other cheeses add extra layers of creaminess! Have fun with it, try any of your favorite cheeses, and enjoy 🙂

Baked Mac And Cheese - 2Teaspoons


Baked Mac And Cheese

Super creamy mac and cheese topped with buttery breadcrumbs and baked to perfection. The ultimate comfort food!
Course Main
Servings 2 -4
Author 2Teaspoons

Ingredients

Mac and Cheese
  • 8 ounces of pasta 1/2 lb
  • 12 ounces by weight* of shredded cheese I used half cheddar, half gruyere
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Topping
  • 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional topping: parsley and paprika

Instructions

  1. Boil a large pot of water on high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour. Gradually pour half and half, then milk in, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk constantly until sauce thickens, about 10-12 minutes. Add mustard, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and salt. Gradually whisk in cheese until completely melted. Gradually stir in pasta and then set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Stir in breadcrumbs and toast, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Divide pasta evenly into 2-4 crocks. Sprinkle evenly and generously with breadcrumbs. Arrange on a cookies sheet and bake until cheese sauce is piping hot. Let sit for 5 minutes, sprinkle with parsley and paprika, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*12 ounces of cheese is about 3 cups of shredded cheese


 


join the conversation


  1. Avatar for Terri

    Terri

    What kind of pasta do you use?


    • Avatar for Karen

      Karen

      Hi Terri! I used elbow macaroni but any small shape like (penne or farfalle) will work great 🙂


  2. Avatar for Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire

    Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire

    I am DYING over here! I am already thinking about lunch right now and then I see them. Oh man, I really want this in my face right now. Creamy mac n cheese and those breadcrumbs… yumm… Please tell me you are coming over with a big bowl of this right now!


    • Avatar for Karen

      Karen

      Hi Amanda! I would have loved to bring you a big batch of mac and cheese! It’s definitely one of those dishes that spreads joy and happiness, just like warm cookies 🙂


  3. Avatar for Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    YUM! I wish I had a bowl of this right now. I love mac and cheese! And I agree….nutmeg is so key here.


    • Avatar for Karen

      Karen

      Thanks Liz! I wish I always had a bowl of mac and cheese 🙂 It’s incredible what the nutmeg does to the cheese sauce…YUM!


  4. Avatar for Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron

    Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron

    Well, you’ve found my weakness…mac and cheese! Love adding nutmeg to everything, I am also a total nutmeg addict. Especially freshly grated nutmeg…my fave! Looks totally delicious, wish I had a bowl of it in front of me right now, Karen!


    • Avatar for Karen

      Karen

      Thanks Dina! I love nutmeg too and am super impressed with what it does to sauces – it just seems to make them so much better! And I definitely agree, fresh nutmeg is incredible 🙂


  5. Avatar for Tina @ Tina

    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner

    I’m craving for mac & cheese at 10am! Beautiful photos. This look absolutely delicious. I’ve heard that pinch of nutmeg makes a difference but I haven’t tried it yet…but now need to. 🙂


    • Avatar for Karen

      Karen

      Thanks Tina! The nutmeg is definitely worth trying and a perfect excuse to make mac and cheese and enjoy it at any time of day! We should totally come up with a brunch dish that uses mac and cheese…I bet it would be super yummy 🙂


  6. Avatar for Sarah@WholeandHeavenlyOven

    [email protected]

    Oh my gosh. Mac ‘n’ cheese is my absolute weakness! I am totally drooling over this ooey gooey stuff! Love love all the breadcrumbs you piled on top too. 🙂 So up my alley!


    • Avatar for Karen

      Karen

      Thanks Sarah! I love how the crunchy texture and buttery flavor of the breadcrumbs contrasts the ooey gooey cheesy goodness of the mac and cheese 🙂


Hi! I'm Karen, the recipe creator, photographer, and food fanatic here at 2Teaspoons. I love delicious food and I love sharing it with great people like you. Welcome to my dinner table, pull up a chair! Read More… →



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