These cute and creamy mac & cheese bites are a fun appetizer for a party, but I like to bake them in regular muffin tins for a fun and homemade tv dinner (or more like movie dinner in my house). American cheese is not something I usually buy, although I do love it on diner cheeseburgers and here, where it really makes the macaroni extra creamy.
slightly adapted from: Food + Wine
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
Brush four 12 cup nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess. You can also use regular muffin tins, like I did.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.