Recipe 17: Lightened-Up (Allegedly) Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

You may notice that the caveat “allegedly” has been included in the title of this mac and cheese.  That was not in the original title; I added it because I can’t see how this is all that light.  But I am no expert on nutrition (heck, I write a mac and cheese blog, afterall).  I suppose dividing the portions into ramekins is what makes it light – forced portion control, after all.  Regardless, it tickled me to have a good reason to use my new ramekins.  I love breaking in new kitchen goodies, don’t you?

Lightened-Up Four Cheese Mac and Cheese (from How Sweet Eats)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked (unless you can’t have gluten; I used brown rice spirals.  4c was maybe 12oz)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour (I use Pamela’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch (Optional; I did use it though)
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese (I used apple smokedcheddar, as it was the first smoked cheddar I found)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz brie cheese (I used a buttery medium brie, as I know that I like it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400.

Separate cooked pasta into 4 ramekins.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to create a roux. Once smooth, add in skim milk and heavy cream, continuing to stir until warm. Add in gruyere and cheddar cheese, stirring until smooth. If sauce it not think enough, whisk in cornstarch until desired consistency is reached (I added it at the end of the cheese mixture, as it seemed too thin for my tastes). Stir in 1/4 cup parmesan and 2 oz of brie. Add in nutmeg and salt and pepper, if needed.

Pour cheese sauce over pasta in each ramekin (I had a fair amount leftover; not all would fit in the ramekins). Top with remaining parmesan and brie. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes to brown cheese on top. (I didn’t broil because mine was already brown at the top)

Ooh... Ramekins...

Verdict: 2.5/5

This wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either.  Sadly, I can’t give a much more ringing endorsement than that.  The texture was a little one-note and could have benefited from being broken up by breadcrumbs or a protein or something.  But more than that for me, the smoked cheddar was way too overwhelming.  I like gruyere in mac and cheese, and I like parmesan and brie – but that smoked cheddar was unpleasant to me – the flavor an odd mix of smoky and almost bitter-umami.  Maybe it was just the type of cheddar – but hey, if you guys like it, you’d probably like it!  It might taste better to me using a regular cheddar or a sharp cheddar.  So maybe I should try it over like that.

Anyway, just not my cup of tea.  All of these ratings are subjective to my personal tastes, so who knows – it could be something you folks enjoy!

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