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Crunchy Mac and Cheese? Can it be done?? Please help!!!

So, I've gotten it in my head that I am going to make mini mac and cheese bites for tomorrow night's bowl game. Since my Horns are playing (and hopefully winning!), I want these cheesy little buggers to be chock full of Tex-Mex flavor.

Here's the idea---mac and cheese doctored up with garlic, onions, peppers (jalepenos, serranos, or bell--I haven't decided on the spice level), tomatoes, & cumin and baked in mini-muffin tins. They'll be the right size, but I want I them to be crunchy on the outside and creamy spicy on the inside. I've seen the fine living recipe for parmesean crusts, but I don't think that'll fit the flavor profile.

If I can't figure out how to crunchify these things I might have to pull a Paula and wrap 'em in bacon and deep fry the heck out of em.

Please help me avoid that terrible fate.

Please.

~Sarah

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  1. Out of curiosity what is a "mini mac and cheese bite" ?
    I'm trying to picture it and can't. I'm thinking of a piece of elbow macaroni stuffed with cheese?

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      No. Baked macaroni and cheese in a smaller form. Like this--but a heck of a lot tastier.

      http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/th...

      I'm also thinking of using smaller pieces of pasta. I think the elbow macaroni might be too big for this project.

    2. Maybe if you roll 'em in panko. Or crushed cornflakes. And deep-frying would definitely help crisp things up, but the bacon's going the wrong direction.

      I'm a UT alum, my stepdad went to Alabama. He still lives in Tuscaloosa and is a huge Crimson Tide fan. This is gonna be fun. Hookem!

      4 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Maybe it's just me, but I always think things coated in cornflakes come out tasting like...cornflakes. Even when seasoned.

        1. re: ChristinaMason

          There are two different types of cornflakes, though, and you have to pick the right one. I totally agree that the super-crunchy variety (the thicker kind) are far too sweet for coating anything but desserts. But the thinner type (I believe Kellogg's is the main one) are much more savory -- but they also have a lot less crunch.

          1. re: ChristinaMason

            ChristinaMason's right -- typically corn flake crumbs impart a strong flavor.

            The cool thing is that the OP's going "tex-mex" so the corn flavor will actually go fine with the added ingredients in her mac 'n cheese.

          2. re: alanbarnes

            I was thinking that too. To roll them in panko, or plain buttered dried bread crumbs. Roll them in it, then put on a baking sheet at 350 for about 10 mins watching them closely.
            Use some creamy mascarpone in the creamy cheese mix, just to ensure that when you bite into these little cheesy things, they are creamy. I'd do mix of cheese in these, a stringy mozz, cheddar and fontina and then a little mascarpone. And small elbow macaroni.

          3. My first thought was, panko crumbs, but that would only give you a crunchy top. Maybe butter & crumb the insides of the muffin tins?

            Second thought, deep fry those suckers -- had that at a wedding once, they were great. Probably tedious for a home cook though. Of course, Paula has a recipe, but without bacon (not that I'm stopping you)

            http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/be...

            1. Mmm. Sounds delicious!

              I'd go with a small soup pasta. Stellini are really cute -- orzo would work, too, or really tiny ditalini.

              As for the crusts, tough call. If you don't want to deep-fry, or even pan-fry, you might be best off with a seasoned-crumb coating and tossing them in the oven, maybe on a rack to avoid soggy bottoms.

              Good luck!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                The orzo idea made me think...instead of balls, with orzo you could make chips/mini cakes and spread out much thinner hopefully making a crispier product - just an idea.

              2. This may sound strange but I'd try panko and crushed potato chips. The potato chips really hold up and don't get mushy.