I’m the girl that picks off the crunchy parts of the mac and cheese tray. You know, the yummy tops and edges that crisp up nicely during baking. Some like the soft, gooey center. I’m OK with that. Just sit next to me so we can share.
Mini mac n’ cheese is perfect because every serving is surrounded with those yummy, crispy edges, yet it’s gooey and deliciously cheesy in the middle. I added some bacon to take it to the next level. Bacon makes everything better, doesn’t it
- 1-12 oz package Bionaturae gluten-free penne (or your favorite pasta), cooked al dente
- 1/3 cup Aleia’s gluten-free panko (or your preferred brand)
- 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve fat in pan)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp King Arthur gluten-free flour blend
- 2 cups warm 2% milk
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 3 cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground mustard
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- 3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
- Fresh ground pepper
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and separated (2/3 for sauce and 1/3 for topping)
- Heat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin pan well with cooking spray.
- Toast the panko in the same pan with the reserved bacon fat over low heat until evenly coated (about 1-2 minutes).
- While cooking pasta you can make the cheese sauce by whisking the butter and flour together over medium-low heat until well blended and smooth. Slowly add in warm milk while whisking continuously to avoid any lumps. This is a béchamel base sauce.
- Spike the sides of the onion with the cloves and add it into the béchamel sauce. Then add in the mustard, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper and whisk. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat, whisking continuously, for about 8-10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Once the béchamel sauce has thickened, remove from heat and whisk in shredded cheddar until melted and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- Toss the pasta in the sauce until well coated.
- Sprinkle the muffin tray bottoms with some of the panko, and fill them with pasta. Toss the rest of the panko with the crumbled bacon and remaining cheddar and evenly distribute on each mini mac n’ cheese.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until tops are golden- brown. Remove tray and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before carefully removing each mini mac n’ cheese and serve immediately.