Introduction: Mac ‘n’ Cheese Pizza Cups
One of my favorite late-night snack in college was without a doubt Domino’s Pizza And consistently ordered the thin crust pizza with extra tomato sauce topped with mozzarella, cheddar cheese and pepperoni plus the spicy buffalo wings! My friends and I would devour all of it like we haven’t eaten in days!!
I hosted a dinner party this past weekend, inviting some college friends and wanted to a version of our late-night (or should I say… super early morning) snack. So, for a post-dinner snack when everyone starts to get the late-night munchies, I decided to create mac ‘n’ cheese mini pizza cups! I loved the idea of mac ‘n’ cheese cups, so I took this idea and created it like a pizza and it turned out phenomenal!!!
If you’re not looking to make mac ‘n’ cheese from scratch, just buy the frozen version from the grocery store or get it from the ready-foods section at Whole Foods. Assembling it into the mini cupcake pan is so simple and easy that it takes little effort, but looks amazing. If you’re hosting a party, this is something that can be made in advance and placed in the freezer. The day before your party, just move it from the freezer to refrigerator to thaw out a little bit. Then whenever you want to serve it, just pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and ta-da!!! It’s done! Your guests are happy and they think you’re a genius!
Step 1: Ingredients (makes 24 Mac ‘n’ Cheese Pizza Cups)
For Mac ‘n’ Cheese:
- 2 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni
- 3 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons sea salt (for water, when boiling macaroni)
For Pizza Cups:
- 60-70 slices of pepperoni (sliced into halves, for a total of 120-140 half pepperoni slices)
- 3/4 cup pizza sauce (I love the one from Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section)
- 1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
Step 2: Directions for Mac 'n' Cheese
If you're buying pre-made or frozen mac'n'cheese, skip this step.
For Mac ‘n’ Cheese:
- Bring water to boil and add 3 tablespoons sea salt into the water (or add more if needed to make the water salty).
- Cook the macaroni according to package instructions (preferably to al dente, tender by chewy)
- Drain the pasta in a colander.In saucepan, on medium-low heat, add 5 tablespoons of butter to the pan and allow it to melt all the way down.
- Slowly add the flour and cayenne pepper and whisk with the butter to make the roux. Be sure to whisk constantly to get the mixture going!
- Once the flour and butter mixture is a thicker consistency and is browned (with nice nutty aromas in the air), then slowly add the milk and keep whisking until it is a gravy.
- Add all the shredded and grated cheeses (Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan) into the gravy mixture and use wooden spoon to mix until the cheese sauce is thickened.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add in cooked macaroni and use wooden spoon to mix until just combined (do not over mix otherwise the cheese won’t be stringy and will start to crumble instead).
Step 3: Directions - for Pizza Cups:
- I use a mini cupcake pan with 24 tin slots.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees.
- From this point, if you prefer not to have pepperoni you can fill each mini cupcake tin with mac ‘n’ cheese and grind some pepper and it’s ready for the oven.
- Take each mini cupcake tin with 5-6 half slices of pepperoni. The oil from the pepperoni will naturally stick to the side of the tin.
- Make sure that the part of the half circle of the pepperoni is sticking up (the pepperoni kind of looks like flower petals!)
Step 4: Fill Each Cup With Mac and Cheese and Use a Small Spoon to Push Down and Tightly Pack Each One.
Step 5: Grind Some Pepper on Top.
Step 6: Top 1 1/2 Teaspoon of Pizza Sauce on Top of Each Mac ‘n’ Cheese Cup.
Step 7: Sprinkle About 1 Tablespoon of Mozzarella on Top of Each Cup.
- Bake for about 15-18 minutes. Then turn the broiler to high and place the tray to the upper rack close to the broiler. Broil for about 3-5 minutes, but keep a close eye on them because the cheese can burn before you know it. You want the cheese to bubble and start to brown slightly before removing from oven.
- Allow the mini cups to sit for about 5-10 minutes to cool (otherwise they will fall apart if you remove them from the mold immediately). Use a plastic spoon and fork to work around the edges and scoop each one out of the tins.