My guests adore these delectable two-bite mac and cheese “canapés.” Consider this recipe a formula rather than a singular recipe. You can vary the cheeses, add herbs or spices, and personalize it in myriad other ways.–Ellen Brown
LC Fancy Schmancy Mac and Cheese Note
Yup. You can now eat mac and cheese while holding your pinky finger aloft. Though it may be tempting to take your fave macaroni and cheese recipe and make it in mini-muffin tins, before you serve the canapés to guests who will be holding them aloft, dangerously close to your carpets and rugs, bear in mind that this trick requires a mac and cheese incarnation that’s not runny and ooey and gooey, for what we think are obvious reasons. We have a hunch that a flute of Champagne would be terribly nice with these nibbles, the effervescence cutting the richness and serving as a playful sidekick to the fancy schmancy mac and cheese.
Special Equipment: Mini-muffin tin
Mac and Cheese Canapés Recipe
Hands-On Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes, not including cooling | Makes 16 to 24
- 1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs (optional)
- 1/4 pound ditalini, which are essentially mini macaroni shapes, or other small, similarly shaped pasta
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for the tins
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole milk, warmed
- 2 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
- 2 ounces Gruyère, grated
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). Generously butter a 24-cup mini-muffin tin and, if desired, sprinkle the cups with breadcrumbs. (If you’re baking the canapés in batches, reserve some of the butter and breadcrumbs, if using, for the second batch.)
- 2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it’s just barely beginning to soften and is at the early stages of al dente. Drain the pasta, rinse it under cold water, and return it to the pot.
- 3. Meanwhile, melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, still stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige and is bubbly. Increase the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the warm milk. Bring to a boil, whisking almost constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cheeses to the sauce in 1/2-cup increments, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well.
- 4. Beat the egg yolk with the cream and mustard, if using, and stir it into the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, and press the mixture into the prepared mini-muffin cups. (You may not fill all 24 of the cups.)
- 5. Bake the canapés for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbly and the tops are light brown. Let them rest for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn them out onto a platter and pass ASAP. The canapés can be baked, cooled, and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat them in a 375ºF (190ºC) until warmed through, 7 to 10 minutes.
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Mac and Cheese Canapés Recipe © 2012 Ellen Brown. Photo © 2012 Steve Legato. All rights reserved.