Creamy-baked mac and cheese sounds good. Do you know what sounds better? Mom's Creamiest Mac and Cheese! This mac and cheese brings out an eyes-closed, wide-smile reaction with every bite from friends and family around the table. Its name only hints at its deep, smooth richness. With the combination of salty and nutty Gruyère cheese and the sharp tang of cheddar, "cheesy" doesn't do it justice. Are there truly words to describe Mom's Creamiest Mac and Cheese? Yes: "Mmmmmmmmmmm!"
Ingredients• 1 pound elbow pasta, uncooked • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 4 cups medium-sharp cheddar cheese, grated • 2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated • 1/2 cup unsalted butter • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour • 1 1/2 cups whole milk • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half • 1/2 tablespoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the elbow pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the recommended cook time on the package instructions, to ensure the noodles are al dente.
Drain and combine with olive oil to avoid any sticking. Set aside.
Meanwhile, toss to combine the grated cheddar and Gruyere cheeses. Then, divide the cheese mix into 3 separate containers: 1 1/2 cups for the center layer, 1 1/2 cups for the topping, and 3 cups for the sauce.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.
Pour in the flour, whisking to combine. The mixture should have a wet-sand appearance. Whisk the flour and butter often, cooking for about 1 minute until the raw flour smell dissipates.
In a separate dish, combine the milk and the half-and-half. Then slowly pour 2 cups of the milk/cream mixture into the saucepan, whisking frequently until smooth.
Once you have a smooth consistency, slowly pour the remaining milk/cream mix into the saucepan, whisking frequently to fully combine.
Continue heating the milk, flour, and butter over medium heat, constantly whisking, until it forms a thick and smooth consistency.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese blend as well as the salt, pepper, and paprika, mixing to combine until melted.
Then stir in an additional 1 1/2 cups of the cheese blend, mixing until fully melted and smooth.
In a large mixing bowl, incorporate the drained pasta with the cheese sauce, stirring to combine.
Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Then, pour 1 1/2 cups of the grated cheese blend over top.
Top with the remaining pasta mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture over the top.
Bake the mac and cheese until the cheese is bubbly and golden-brown, for about 15 minutes.
Serve hot and melty!