The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

9:36 AM

What's on the side? Mac n' Cheese on a Date

Posted by Magic of Spice

Individual Macaroni and Cheese
in Grana Padano Cheese baskets

These are individual size macaroni and cheese sides in their very
own cheese baskets. The pasta I chose is a Spinach Capelli, the capelli
is a very thin long rod shaped pasta similar to capellini but thinner.

For the cheese selection we have Truffle Noir and Midnight Moon cheeses.
Our Truffle Noir is always a favorite around here and is a Gouda that has been
laced with black truffle. This is a semi soft cheese with a strong robust flavor.
The Midnight Moon is a new cheese find and has a wonderful buttery/nutty flavor.
It has a firm, smooth texture with a slight graininess to it. It is a goat's milk cheese
that is aged for one year or longer. for the baskets themselves I used Grana Padano.
This of course would work with any hard aged cheese.

What you will need:

For the mac n cheese
Capelli pasta, or other long thin variety
Truufle Noir cheese, large to medium grate
Midnight Moon cheese, fine grate
Small amount of truffle oil
Small amount of heavy cream
Small amount of butter
Fresh ground black pepper
Finishing salt if desired
Individualized ramekins per serving

For the cheese baskets
Grana Padano or other aged hard cheese
Baking sheet
Cooling wrack

*Note: Your baskets can be made the day before...

Lets get baking:

For the macaroni and cheese
*Note: The amount of cheese and pasta will depend on the both size of your
ramekins as well as how many servings you desire. An example would be for
every 6 ounces of pasta you will have 6-8 individual servings.
Prepare your pasta to al dente, strain but do not rinse then place in a mixing bowl.
While the pasta is still add a small amount of truffle oil, cream, a butter and
black pepper. Lightly oil each remain then take enough pasta to fill ramekin
to slightly less then half way. Top with grated Truffle Noir so that the ingredient
now reaches mid way mark or a bit higher. Add a second layer of pasta then
press down on the last layer firmly, add final layer of finely grated Midnight
Moon cheese and bake 350 degrees in a pre-heatd oven for about 20 minutes
or until cheese is bubbly.

For the cheese baskets
For you will need enough medium grated Grana Padano or other hard
cheese large enough to accommodate your individual servings of
macaroni and cheese. You can see in the small photo above I
have placed a serving on a prepared cheese disk to approximate.
You can do this by measuring the diameter along with the depth of
each ramekin then adding a bit extra. An example of a standard
6 ounce round ramekin is  2 inches in depth and 3.5 inches in diameter.
So you will want your discs to be to be 5.5 inches in diameter plus
about 1/8th to 1/4 inches over. Layer cheese out as evenly as
possible on a non stick baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated
oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until cheese has
melted and fused together.
 *Do not over bake, the center should still be slightly soft.

Remove from oven and carefully remove each disc one at a time for shaping.
You can cool these just to the touch before handling.  I shaped these 2 ways.
1. Using the ramekin as a shaping mold, gently press cheese disc into ramekin
until it almost reaches the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
2. Using the same steps as in #1 only use a slightly larger and more shallow
 bowl to shape each cheese bow.
These cheese bowls can be cooled overnight if desired once shaped, or
be stored in an airtight container with sheets of parchment paper
separating each for 2-3 days prior to use.
They also make a very tasty snack on their own :)

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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