#52NewEats :: Week 3 :: Creamy Brie Mac and Cheese

Hey ya’ll!  For this week’s 52 New Eats recipe I chose another mac and cheese dish – primarily because my daughter LOVES Brie cheese, and LOVES Ritz crackers, and I though, why wouldn’t she LOVE this?!

Silly me.  🙄

She’s too picky I suppose.  She didn’t like this mac and cheese, but I thought it was pretty bangin’.  I like that it’s a little more grown-up than my mac and cheese – it uses slightly more ‘exotic’ cheeses.  Not so exotic you can’t find them in a supermarket, but more exotic than your average Joe mac and cheese.  I’m happy with the way this turned out and will file it in my ‘keepers’ column.  😊  You can find the original recipe //here//.

Here are my thoughts on the recipe:

🍴 I halved the recipe and it was plenty for me, my daughter, and two bowls of leftovers.  I’d only make the full portion if I was having people over.  It did reheat well, if you heat it gently on 50% power until warmed through.

🍴  The cheese sauce is VERY thick.  I would highly recommend measuring the cheeses accurately, and weighing the Brie as well.  Don’t eyeball it.  I sort of eyeballed it in the sense that I measured out the cheese I needed and then I had some leftover and thought eh, can’t hurt anything, but I think it helped contribute to making the cheese sauce very thick.  I don’t not like this – who doesn’t love a thick, creamy cheese sauce? – but it may not be what some are looking for.  I also used just over 2oz of Brie.  This also helps make it slutty and thick!

🍴  I have never had crushed Ritz crackers on top of a casserole before, though I have seen it many times.  You can now officially call me converted – it was the perfect topping for this mac and cheese, and I may even reconstruct my classic mac and cheese to have this topping!  I omitted the garlic in this step though, because I was trying to keep it as kid-friendly as possible.  I’m sure the garlic would have been a nice, sharp touch!  If you do add it, I would highly recommend grating it over mincing it.  It will melt into the butter much better.

🍴  I was unsure about the mustard powder and cayenne, but I added it anyway because like I said before, I like to make a recipe as called for the first time, and tweak afterwards.  I barely tasted them after the mac and cheese baked, but I do think I tasted the mustard powder – it was ever so slight, something that just made me go hm, is that the mustard powder?  Maybe that’s what my kiddo tasted when she made a stink face at me.  Whatever, I didn’t mind it at all, and it’s probably the kind of thing you would notice if it wasn’t there.  I could imagine this mac and cheese being rather plain without these seasonings – Brie, havarti, and fontina are all pretty mild, rich cheeses.

Below is the recipe as I made it.  Enjoy!

Creamy Brie Mac and Cheese
Serves 8

Ingredients
3.5 tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cups crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 pound elbow pasta
1/8 cup flour
1.5 cups warm milk
2/3 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fontina cheese, shredded
2/3 cups havarti cheese, shredded
2-3 ounces Brie, rind removed and chopped
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain. Set aside.
3. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1.5 tablespoons butter. Allow to melt. Add in the crushed Ritz crackers, and stir to coat and toast, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Allow the mixture to cook and bubble for about a minute, stirring a couple times so as not to burn it.
5. Add the milk. Whisk constantly, and raise heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and begin stirring in all of the cheeses.
6. Once the cheeses are well-combined, pour the sauce over the drained macaroni. Stir together to combine, then pour into the prepared baking dish.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.

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