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Easy Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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Side dish of baked macaroni and cheese
Burwell and Burwell Photography/E+/Getty Images
This creamy baked macaroni and cheese recipe is my favorite. What makes it stand out from all the other baked macaroni and cheese recipes out there? This mac 'n 'cheese is easy to make, has rich flavor, and a smooth and creamy texture that isn't overly heavy and gooey. The secret? A blend of mascarpone, cottage cheese and gruyere cheese.

The mascarpone and cottage cheese melt completely into the noodles, giving the macaroni and cheese a creamy texture without having to deal with a flour and butter based sauce. No one will ever guess mascarpone and cottage cheese are the secret ingredients. The gruyere brings bold, sharp flavor to the dish and keeps the texture smooth, not grainy.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups (8 ounces) uncooked large elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) full-fat cottage cheese (ideally small curd)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone
  • 3 cups (about 1/2 pound) grated gruyere cheese
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, split
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

Oil or butter an 8x8 (2 quart) baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for six minutes (or about 3 minutes less than the regular cooking time. The noodles shouldn't be cooked all the way because they will continue to soften in the oven)

Drain the noodle and rinse well - leaving too much starch on the noodles can make the finished baked macaroni and cheese taste bland.

In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, mascarpone, gruyere, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

Add the noodles to the bowl, mixing well so the noodles are evenly and completely covered with the cheese and egg mixture.

Spread the noodles evenly into the baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the panko and olive oil until the breadcrumbs are evenly coated in the oil.

Sprinkle the panko on top of the noodles.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. If the panko topping is not brown and crispy, put the broiler on for the last few minutes of cooking time to make the top brown and crispy.

Once out of the oven, let the baked macaroni and cheese rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it.

© recipe 2012 Jennifer Meier licensed to About.com, Inc.

Why Large Elbow Macaroni?

Large elbow macaroni is, well, larger and there is more room for the cheese to get inside and flavor the noodles. Every noodle is filled with cheesy goodness. The inside of small elbow macaroni noodles don't really fill up with cheese, it remains on the outside and the result is a dish with inferior flavor and texture.

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