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I think our six-year-old daughter may have a future as an event planner when she grows up! Last year – for months and completely on her own – Emma talked about having a great big play date at our house. She made a list of all of her friends who would be invited, wrote out invitations, made signs to decorate the house, and planned the activities.
This party planning went on for months until Jack and I looked at each other and said. “Why not actually do this?!” So we picked a date in early June and held “Emma’s Big Play Date” – a really fun outdoor party in our backyard for a bunch of Emma’s classmates, friends and their parents!
When Jack and I started planning the menu, we wanted to serve foods that would meet two criteria. First – whatever we served had to appeal to both kids and grownups. Second – we wanted to serve easy-to-eat foods since everyone would be mingling about in our back yard and there’s nothing worse than having to juggle a plateful of food, a drink and silverware. These Mac and Cheese Cupcakes fit the bill perfectly!
These mac and cheese cupcakes were so good, and we got so many compliments on them last year, that when it came time to plan the “2nd Annual” Emma’s Big Play Date this year – we knew that they had to be on the menu again!
These mac and cheese cupcakes have a delicious buttery, Ritz cracker and cheddar cheese crust on the bottom. Then that crust gets topped with a mac and cheese mixture of elbow pasta, cheddar cheese, Boursin cheese (which adds a wonderful savory flavor!), sour cream, milk and seasonings. They’re baked until lightly golden brown on the outside, but still soft and creamy on the inside.
My goodness – these mac and cheese cupcakes are cheesy, buttery, creamy, savory perfection in a muffin cup! And yes – they will definitely be on the menu for our “3rd Annual” Emma’s Big Play Date next summer!
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Mac and Cheese Cupcakes
This recipe was adapted from Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from The Curvy Carrot (Shanon from The Curvy Carrot had the brilliant idea to add the Boursin cheese to this recipe!), who adapted it from the original recipe by The Deen Brothers. (Phew – I think I’ve given everyone their proper credit!) Although the original recipes don’t include this step, we strongly recommend baking these in a muffin tin with paper liners sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking.
- 12 ounces, uncooked elbow pasta (equals 6 cups once cooked)
- 3 cups Ritz cracker crumbs (about 2 1/2 sleeves)
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (one stick)
- 1 5.2-ounce package Boursin garlic herb cheese
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the elbow pasta according to package direction to slightly less than al dente. Drain the pasta well.
- While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the Ritz cracker crumbs, 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese and the melted butter. Mix until fully combined.
- Line two standard size muffin tins with paper liners and spray each liner with non-stick cooking spray as well as over spray onto top of pan. Divide the cracker mixture into each muffin liner evenly between 24 cups. Using the flat bottom of a small glass, press the cracker mixture firmly into the bottom of the liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the drained pasta, the remaining shredded cheddar cheese, Boursin cheese and cold butter.
- In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and sour cream. Whisk to combine.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the pasta mixture. Add the salt and red pepper flakes and gently stir all of the ingredients together to combine – being careful not to break up the pasta.
- Divide the pasta mixture between each muffin liner placing on top of the cracker mixer.
- Bake until light golden brown – about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then remove from the pan and serve warm.
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