Creamy jalapeño Havarti and sharp & spicy habanero cheddar are perfect with tender corkscrew pasta in this soul-warmingly spicy baked mac and cheese.
Guys, this is not your mama's mac and cheese.
Instead of regular cheddar, we're making the cheese sauce out of half jalapeño Havarti cheese and half habanero cheddar cheese, and DANG IT'S GOOD.
It actually started as my mama-in-law's mac and cheese, but when I was looking for the Tillamook cheddar she recommended in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store, I got distracted by all the delicious options they have and I thought to myself...well, why not switch it up? Let's get some FANCY cheese!
And I am so glad I did.
This combination of cheeses is perfect; the Havarti is super creamy but still has a hint of spice from the jalapeño, and the cheddar packs a serious punch of flavor both in the cheese itself and from the habanero peppers running through it.
Fair warning - this mac & cheese is probably not for kids (or spice wimps 😜). You can alter the spiciness level by varying the exact cheeses you choose, but if you go with the same two that I used (Boar's Head Cream Havarti Cheese with Jalapeño and Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese), it's going to have a kick to it. The Havarti isn't super spicy, but the cheddar definitely is!
But omg we LOVED it. Mac and cheese is already an amazing comfort food, but adding the heat to it just makes it warm your soul. If you like spicy and you like mac & cheese, this recipe is definitely for you.
Yummy noises await you!
Creamy jalapeño Havarti and sharp & spicy habanero cheddar are perfect with tender corkscrew pasta in this soul-warmingly spicy baked macaroni and cheese.
- 16 oz. Cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta (uncooked)
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 cups milk
- 8 oz jalapeño havarti cheese, grated
- 8 oz habanero cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large pot, cook the pasta in salted boiling water (use about 1 Tbsp salt in 3 quarts of water) until al dente (check it about 2 minutes before the recommended time on the box, you don't want to overcook the pasta now because it will cook a little more in the oven). Drain and set aside.
Return empty pot to stove. Over medium high heat, melt butter and whisk in flour, salt & pepper and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
Turn off heat. Set aside 1/4 cup of each type of cheese (1/2 cup total) for the topping, and stir in remaining cheese a handful at a time. Add cooked & drained noodles to cheese sauce and stir to combine.
Transfer mac & cheese to a buttered 9x13 baking dish and top with reserved cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling on the sides. Broil for about 2 minutes to crisp & brown the top, if desired. Serve immediately!
Cavatappi/corkscrew is my favorite, but feel free to substitute your favorite short pasta shape! Just make sure to check the cooking time on the box.
I used Boar's Head Cream Havarti Cheese with Jalapeño and Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese.
Cute, Rachel—“not your mama’s Mac n cheese”. Indeed! Whatever cheeses you choose, it is really easy to make and a miraculous improvement over the boxed kind. It’s major comfort food!! Hugs, your mama-in-law
That looks AMAZING!!!! I love a good spicy kick in the palette! I can't wait to try it!!!
I just made this and can confirm that it is delicious. Super cheesy. Full disclosure, I did have to make some cheese and pasta substitutions based on what I had on hand. Since I was missing the jalapeno in the havarti, I added some onion and chipotle seasoning to the roux to kick up the jams. I also mixed buttered, crumbled parmesan cheese wafers with the reserved topping cheese for a little crunch. If you're thinking about skipping the broil step, please don't.
Could this be partially made the day before?
I haven't tried it myself but I think it would work just fine! I would do all the steps up to baking it in advance - store it covered in the fridge and bake it the day you are serving it. It will need a little more time in the oven since it's cold from the fridge, but just check to make sure it's warmed through and bubbly on the top and sides. Let me know how it goes! 🙂