Let’s get right down to it… Mac and Cheese.  There, I said it.  I’ve always been a mac and cheese girl.  It’s a direct route to my heart, the first thing I try at a buffet, my favorite comfort food.  Even when I find a recipe I love, I keep trying new ones, because who knows?  There might be one I love even more.

Becoming gluten-free was a bit of a bump in the mac and cheese world.  For one, opportunities to eat it now rest solely on me.  No more buffets, no more potlucks, no more emergency blue box.  Another facet of being gluten free is that convenience foods are gone.  There’s no fast food, or grabbing a bagel, or a sandwich.  Portable food became important, and with the cost of a loaf of gluten free bread (sheesh) we aren’t going to rely on a sandwich every time.

Enter: Miniature Mac and Cheese Cups!  This is not the first time you’ve heard me sing the praises of Nicole Hunn, gluten free cookbook author and blogger extraordinaire.  Thanks to her cooking pursuits, I found the recipes (and the confidence!) to master pie crust, bagels, and rock-star worthy cinnamon buns. Macaroni and cheese, especially portable, mini mac and cheese, is just perfect. They were incredible, and we froze the extras, which I hear works well.  We couldn’t wait to try these, and so many of the other recipes in her new book, Gluten-Free Small Bites.  It’s filled with a bevy of delicious “small bites,” such as handheld wraps, roll-ups, and pies.

With Nicole’s permission, I’ve shared the recipe (and her photo).  Enjoy, and do check out her new book—you won’t know what to make first!  We can’t wait to try the spinach balls and apple hand pies.  If you pre-order before October 25th, you’ll have access to six extra freebies, including a flour calculator, and step-by-step videos of some recipes. If you get your hands on the book, share your thoughts with our readers, below.

mini-mac-and-cheese-cups

miniature mac and cheese cups

Makes about 24 cups

Ingredients

8 ounces small dried gluten-free pasta (like elbows)

1 to 2 tablespoons (14 to 28 g) extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, chopped

3 tablespoons (27 g) Basic Gum-Free Gluten-Free Flour (page 4)

6 fluid ounces (1/2 can) evaporated milk

1 to 11/4 cups (8 to 10 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature

4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 ounces sharp yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), at room

temperature, beaten

Directions

Boil the pasta in a large pasta pot to an al dente texture, according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and toss it with olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.  Cover the pot and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 735°F. Generously grease the wells of two 12-cup standard muffin tins, and set them aside. To make the cheese sauce melt the chopped butter in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine well. The mixture will clump at first, and then smooth after it cooks for a minute or so. This is the roux that will thicken the cheese sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has just begun to turn a very light-brown color, about 2 minutes. Add the evaporated milk to the roux very slowly, stirring constantly to break up any lumps that might form. Add 1 cup of milk, and whisk to combine well. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by about one-quarter, about 7 minutes. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the shredded cheeses, salt, and pepper, and mix to combine. The cheese sauce should be very thickly pourable. Add the beaten egg to the remaining milk, and pour the mixture into the cheese sauce, mixing constantly. Pour the hot cheese sauce over the cooked pasta, and stir carefully to coat all of the pasta in the cheese sauce without breaking up the pasta at all.

Fill the prepared wells of the mini muffin tins just past the top with the macaroni and cheese mixture, and press down carefully but firmly to pack the mixture into the well. Place the muffin tins, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes before running a toothpick around the edge of each muffin well to loosen the cups and popping them out. Serve warm.

From the book Gluten-Free Small Bites: Sweet and Savory Handheld Treats for On-the-Go Lifestyles and Entertaining, by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Press, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Copyright © 2016.

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