My earliest memory of mac and cheese is of that magic (or horrifying) combination of neon orange powder and straight macaroni noodles. One bite and I was hooked. It’s been many years since I’ve had Kraft Dinner, but I’ve never lost my love for a gooey mess of cheese and noodles. My love for mac and cheese may have started with KD, but my obsession with it is definitely due to homemade.
These mini mac and cheese muffins mimic French onion soup by using gruyere and lightly caramelized onions. The sweetness of the onions and the nutty savouriness of the gruyere made these mac and cheese muffins are perfect with a cold beer.
The key to any good mac and cheese is the cheese, but more importantly, it’s the white sauce. Lump free white sauce is the perfect base for any cheese. White sauce is a simple 1:1 ratio of butter to flour, plus cold milk. I made my fair share of lumpy sauce before I found out that adding cold milk to a hot roux ensured that my sauce was lump free every time. Lump free white sauce, try it!
Mini French Onion Mac and Cheese Recipe
yield: 18 mini mac muffins
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup milk, cold
- 3/4 cup shredded gruyere
- 2 tablespoons diced onions, lightly sautéed
- 1 cup macaroni
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- chives for garnish
Heat oven to 350 F.
In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente and drain.
While the pasta is cooking, heat butter over medium low heat in a small sauce pan. When nice and bubbly, add flour and whisk to combine into a thick paste. Turn heat to low and continue to whisk until roux is cooked, but not brown. When the roux looks slightly grainy, it’s time to add your cold milk. Add the cold milk at once and whisk. Your sauce will look lumpy at first, but as the milk heats up, the lumps will disappear. Continue to stir over medium low heat until sauce is bubbly and thick. Stir in 1/2 cup of shredded gruyere and onions. Season with pepper to taste.
Fold the macaroni into the cheese sauce. Spoon the mac and cheese into a lightly buttered mini muffin pan. Try to compress the mac and cheese into the tin; this will help the muffins retain their shape. Top with remaining shredded gruyere and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tops are nice and brown.
Let the mac muffins cool for at least an hour before removing from muffin tin. Garnish with snips of chives. Enjoy!