My favorite sign at the farmers market where I used to sell belonged to the cheesemonger: Sweet dreams are made of cheese– Who am I to diss a brie? Wahaha! I know it probably originated elsewhere. But I love Annie Lennox, and I love cheese, so I totally laughed out loud. This single-serve mac & cheese is a combination of three cheeses plus some heavy cream. So don’t eat it every day. But when you’re really in the mood for cheesy goodness that is also quick and easy to make, you’ve got it right here.
In a typical from-scratch macaroni & cheese recipe, you make a roux with milk and flour to thicken the sauce, and to keep it from separating. I never like the consistency of the sauce when doing it this way. I always dream of a creamier creation. Using cream cheese and heavy cream as emulsifiers in place of the flour solves this problem, and allows the dish to come together much more quickly. In fact, the quickest, cleanest way to make this sauce is in your microwave. Trust me on this. It works great.
The other thing to note here is that it really (really) helps to have a kitchen scale when working with pasta. Stop to consider how every shape is different in size and the space it takes up, and you quickly realize that “one cup” of elbows is not the same amount of pasta as “one cup” of bow-ties. If you want the right amount of pasta to go with your sauce, please consider using a kitchen scale. I’m serious. It will make your life better.
Also, the one ingredient you can play around with in this recipe is the Gorgonzola. Dislike veined cheese? Substitute Swiss, Asiago, Monterrey Jack, extra Cheddar, or your favorite semi-hard cheese. Just be careful with the total salt content of the recipe. Some cheeses are saltier than others, so add extra salt sparingly to this recipe, and taste as you go. You can always add more if needed.
Use your scale to measure out 3.5 ounces of pasta. I prefer to use small elbows– nostalgia, I guess! Cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine all the cheeses, the heavy cream, salt, white pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring well between each burst, until all cheese is melted and the mixture is totally homogeneous. This takes about 2 minutes in my microwave. Drain the pasta, add the cheese sauce, sprinkle with some bread crumbs if you like, and you are in cheesy heaven!
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