Spiced Apple and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

Spiced apple and cherrywood smoked cheddar mac and cheese

Introduction

Day 4 of Aldi’s cheese advent calendar gave us a spiced apple cheddar. I haven’t been able to find it available for sale individually, so we’ll just have to enjoy it while we can. This cheese is so interesting and I knew it would be perfect in a spiced apple and cherrywood smoked cheddar mac and cheese.

Note: This article contains affiliate links to products that I love and use to make mac and cheese in my own kitchen. When you click links here and make a purchase, I receive a commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my Affiliate Link Policy here.

Using Cheese in Mac and Cheese

When you take a bite of cheese, pay attention to when the flavor develops. Some cheeses hit you immediately but fade away quickly, and this is what I call an opener cheese. It’s what you’ll taste first when you eat a mac and cheese. Other cheeses take a few seconds for it to really come out, and these are closer cheeses. Well-balanced mac and cheese recipes make use of both opener and closer flavors so the cheesy flavor carries throughout the bite.

Spiced Apple Cheddar

This cheese is such an interesting blend of flavors. Cheesiness hits you immediately – making this a great opener cheese, but then a subtle apple starts to develop and eventually a spice blend starts to come out. I knew I wanted to pair this cheese with something that was a little sweeter, and that’s where Sartori’s cherrrywood smoked cheddar comes into play.

Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar

Sartori’s cheddars are unprecedented. They’re easy to get their hands on, and they’re great in mac and cheese recipes. Cheddar tends to be an opener cheese, but from taste tests we identified this cheese as a closer. It’s packed with cheddar flavor, with an almost sweet smoky finish. It’s a fantastic experience and pairs beautifully with the spiced apple cheddar in this dish.

Wagon Wheel Pasta in Spiced Apple and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

The pasta you use in your mac and cheese recipe can make or break your dish. If your pasta is too large, the meal will be cumbersome and difficult to eat. On the other hand, if your pasta is too small you run the risk of your mac and cheese becoming a soupy mess. Additionally, smaller noodles will show defects in sauce if you’re a new mac and cheese chef. Dan Pashman coined the phrase “forkability” for pasta shapes and it’s a great representative of what I look for in my pasta. I want to be able to spear it with a fork when I’m eating it.

Wagon wheels sit in the perfect balance between too large and too small. Plus they have plenty of pockets to hold onto sauce making every bite full of flavor.

Toppings

The right pasta and cheese can give you good mac and cheese, but toppings can elevate it to a great dish. Toppings add an extra pop of flavor, color, and texture.

This recipe makes use of mini southwest flavored croutons. They’re crispy bites crispier than breadcrumbs and add a great crunch to each bite.

Reheating Spiced Apple and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

Reheating mac and cheese can be difficult, but I’ve noticed that isn’t the case with roux based mac and cheese dishes. Store your leftovers in the fridge as needed, and microwave it for a minute or two when you’re ready to eat it again. In fact, giving the flavors a day or two to mingle together will give you an even more delicious mac and cheese than the day before.

Add a Fork

Spiced apple cheddar pairs beautifully with cherrywood smoked cheddar for a unique mac and cheese experience. Layered with crispy mini croutons, it is packed with flavor and an interesting texture that will keep you coming back for more.

Spiced Apple and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound Wagon Wheels Or other medium sized pasta

For the Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 3 tbsp Flour
  • 3 cups Whole milk
  • 4 oz Spiced apple cheddar Grated
  • 4 oz Cherrywood smoked cheddar Grated
  • 1/2 tbsp Better than bullion Chicken flavor
  • 1 tsp Ground mustard

Toppings

  • Southwest mini croutons Private selection brand

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions in well salted water. If you think it’s salty enough, add more.

Prepare the Sauce

  • Pre heat your milk in the microwave for 45 seconds – just enough to take the chill out of it.
  • Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and let it heat until it becomes foamy.
  • Mix in flour. Cook it for a minute while stirring constantly
  • Slowly add warmed milk to the butter mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk it continually until combined. Stir in mustard powder and Better than Bullion
  • Once all of the milk is added, cook for a few minutes while whisking it. Do not let it boil. You will feel the sauce start to thicken. It’s ready for cheese when you rub a small amount between your fingers and it feels silky.
  • Remove from heat and stir in your cheese until it’s melted and mixed into the sauce.
  • Once the cheese is incorporated, use a cooked noodle to taste your sauce. If it doesn’t taste cheesy enough try adding a little more salt to bring out the flavor.
  • Combine the pasta and sauce.

Plate Your Mac and Cheese

  • Plate your pasta and add a generous topping of mini croutons. Serve immediately.
Keyword cherrywood smoked cheddar, mini crouton shaker, spiced apple cheddar, wagon wheels