tapas for appetizers because this time of year I’m always looking for a quick recipe…
Macaroni and cheese as finger food? Absolutely. This is not your routine mac & cheese by any means because you pop it in your mouth by hand. But what really sets this apart is a splash of Angostura bitters that elevates the flavor to munchies you can’t resist. It’s a perfect palate pleaser for adults and kids alike, and ideal for all the autumn tv watching (presidential debates, football, SF Giants in the World Series, new tv shows etc etc). So try this delectable snack. You’ll love them. Promise.
Conveniently, my Mac & Cheese Bites can be made a day or two ahead. Remove squares from pan and refrigerate. To reheat, place squares on a sheet tray or toaster-oven tray; heat at 350°F for 5 minutes or just until warm. Or place squares on a serving plate and microwave, uncovered, on medium power 45 seconds or until warm.
Mac & Cheese Bites
Makes 35 squares Prep: 1 hour & 15 minutes (includes cooling time)
6 cups cooked elbow macaroni *
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs, divided
1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese,* divided
1 cup whole milk or half & half, or a combination
1 Tbsp. ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters
1/2 tsp. salt
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese
Prepare macaroni ahead of time, cooking 1-2 minutes less than the time on the box. Drain and rinse well. If cooking a day ahead, cover and refrigerate. Macaroni should not be wet when starting this recipe.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a 13×9” baking pan. Sprinkle with about 3 tablespoons of the bread crumbs; shake pan to coat bottom and sides. See photos below. Place remaining bread crumbs (1/3 cup or so) in a small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the Romano cheese; set aside.
Measure milk. Add Angostura bitters, salt, pepper and nutmeg; stir to dissolve salt. Place macaroni in a large bowl. Stir in milk mixture. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and remaining 1/2 cup Romano cheese. Let rest 5 minutes; stir again. Spoon into prepared baking pan and spread out evenly.
Sprinkle the bread crumb/cheese mixture over macaroni. Bake uncovered 35-45 minutes until edges are browned. Let cool 20 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut 35 squares (7 rows x 5 rows). Remove from pan with a metal spatula. Serve warm.
* Kitchen Notes
– Different brands of elbow macaroni yield different amounts of cooked pasta, from 5 to 6 cups for 8 oz uncooked elbows. It’s best to cook more then needed, and use any remaining elbows for salads or side dishes.
– Cheeses vary widely. Choose a robust, tangy Cheddar and perhaps Pecorino Romano for the fullest flavor.
Nutrition information for 3 mac & cheese bites: 250 calories, 13g protein, 27g carb, 10g fat, (6g sat. fat), 30mg chol, 380mg sodium, 1g fiber
Recipe and photos by Rita Held for Angostura USA
Buttered, crumb-dusted pan
Ready to bake
Baked, cooled 20 minutes, ready to cut.