The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has recently asked me to develop another mac ‘n cheese recipe in addition to the kugel-like Spiced Apple Macaroni and Cheese and Caramelized Onion Pasta Gratin aka French Onion Soup Macaroni and Cheese which I had made for them in the past two years. Suddenly, my mind went straight to my mother’s impromptu Thai-style baked rice pudding that combines sweet coconut sticky rice (the kind you eat with ripe mangoes) and Thai coconut custard (sangkhaya).
‘What if we use rice-shaped pasta instead of rice?‘ I thought. ‘And what if we add a mild, creamy cheese like mascarpone to it?‘
I have also added another step which is to separate the eggs, whip the whites separately, and fold them into the orzo-custard mixture towards the end which is similar to what you do when making a baked soufflé. This has resulted in a lighter, fluffier pudding that separates into two layers by itself. You get soft meringue on the top and a gooey, custard-y pasta layer on the bottom.
I really, really like this recipe. Won’t you give it a try?