Doesn't everyone love mac & cheese? At least everyone with a pulse.
As soon as I tasted Zane & Zack's Habanero Cream Cheese (the source of the heat), I knew I would be making macaroni and cheese with it. For those of you that are local, I bought it at the Ballard Farmer's Market...love that place.
This Habanero version was creamy and cheesy and full of mac and cheese goodness, but it is definitely for those who can handle the heat. I'm toning down the amount of Habanero Cream Cheese in the recipe post, because what I actually used was just way too hot for some palates. There was no way Mr. KMW was touching that stuff, so I brought it into my office and it went quick! For those that can handle LOTS of heat feel free to increase to the full 8 ounces. And if you're looking to make friends at work, feel free to bring in a pan of mac and cheese.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3/4 cups of milk (I used 1%)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 to 5 ounces Habanero Cream Cheese (if you're urging for a burning mouth use 8 oz and only use 1-3/4 cup of Beechers)
2 cups Beechers Flagship Cheese (can substitute sharp white cheddar)
14.5 ounces rotini (I used whole wheat...it makes me feel better about all of that cheese)
1 to cups panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat milk over medium heat in stove top pan.
Meanwhile in a large non stick saute pan (or high sided skillet) melt butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted whisk in flour. Whisk for about 1 minute.
Slowly whisk warm milk into butter/flour mixture. Continue whisking until milk bubbles and starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, start boiling water for pasta (I use the same pan I warmed the milk in and just rinse it out) and cook 2 minutes below package directions.
After whisking milk and it thickens, remove pan from heat, stir in cream cheese and 1-1/2 cups Beecher's Cheese (save 1/2 cup for top) into milk until it melts. Stir in salt, black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
Drain and rinse pasta and add into the pan with the cheese sauce. The pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of Beecher's Cheese. Then sprinkle on panko bread crumbs. Spray with cooking spray (like Pam's) to help the bread crumbs brown.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until top starts to brown.