Day #2 of Holiday Appetizers: Mac & Cheese Cups

Photo Courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine
Who doesn't like Mac and Cheese? Especially when it's an adult version filled with Parmesan, Gruyere and Grana Padano cheeses and a drizzle of truffle oil? I know I certainly couldn't resist that! I went for a PG-rated version at our holiday cocktail party, omitting the truffle oil in favor of a dash of cayenne pepper. Why? Believe it or not, not everyone loves truffle oil (I know, I don't understand it either) and I wanted to make sure my appetizers were equally opportunity people-pleasers.

I made these the night before our party and popped them in the oven right as the first guests started to arrive. They cooked in about 10 minutes, came out of the pan in perfect little bites and were a serious hit. Friends even came into the kitchen to get first dibs at subsequent batches. They're super easy, delicious and as low maintenance as mini hot apps get. Here's how you make them:

Mini Mac and Cheese Cups
Recipe Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
  • 4 ounces Grana Padano cheese (or use Parmesan Reggiano)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water. Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.

Brush the pan with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the Gruyere and Grana Padano cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk, paprika and cayenne. Fold in the macaroni. Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top. Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve. Note: The cups can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight. Bake and serve the next day per the directions.

Make the roux and add the Gruyere and Grana Padano cheeses

Stir cheese until melted and comes together

Fold in the macaroni

Pack macaroni and cheese mixture into mini muffin tin

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake until bubbling and crispy

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