Monday, September 20, 2010

Meatless Monday - Mac & Cheese with Chocolate

When Mr Minx and I visited Jack's Bistro last month, we were most intrigued to try the Mac & Cheese & Chocolate. It was as odd as it sounds, and the very mild mac and cheese topped with shaved chocolate seemed neither appetizer nor dessert.

While the concept is weird, we thought that we could create a version at home that would work better. Perhaps if the cheese were more noticeable, and if the dish were spiced like a Mexican molé, the chocolate and cheese would have better integration.

We bought several varieties of cheese from the new Safeway on York Road, making sure that at least one of them had some sort of strong flavor. Because the original version of the dish had a vague smokiness, I knew I wanted to use a smoked gouda, and definitely some smoked paprika. I always loved when my mom put Swiss cheese in her baked mac, so we did that too. And we added a fourth cheese - chevre - for some extra zing. A quick consultation with Rick Bayless (in cookbook form) gave us some ideas for the spicing. And there you have it - Mac & Cheese & Chocolate.

Minx Mac & Cheese & Chocolate

1 pound small shell pasta
4 tablespoons butter
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon powdered jalapeno
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
4 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
4 ounces shredded smoked Gouda cheese
2 ounces goat cheese
1 ounce dark chocolate, grated

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the milk and the next 11 ingredients. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until all of the cheese and chocolate has melted and is well-combined.

Makes way too many servings.

So did it work? Of course not.

We tasted the dish before adding the chocolate, and it was fine - cheesy and slightly spicy. After the chocolate - weird. Chocolate simply has no place in a bowl of macaroni and cheese. At least not dark chocolate. The flavor is so distinctive, so bitter, it stands out as an incongruous note, rather than part of a whole. Maybe milk chocolate would work better? You are welcome to try that out for yourself. As for me, I'm going to stick to macaroni with cheese, period. Why mess with a good thing?

1 comment:

Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon said...

Minx, I give you props for trying but I can't imagine any world where mac and cheese and chocolate would be a good combo.