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Calling all cheese lovers! This recipe isn't just for mac and cheese; it's an experience in creamy, cheesy indulgence. Get ready to create a dish so ooey-gooey, so irresistible, that it will have everyone reaching for seconds (and maybe even thirds!).

Here's what you'll need to assemble your mac and cheese masterpiece:

  • Elbow Macaroni Majesty: 1 pound of dry elbow macaroni pasta forms the base for this delicious dish.
  • Buttery Goodness: ½ cup of salted butter adds richness and helps create a smooth and creamy sauce.
  • Flour Power: ½ cup of all-purpose flour acts as a thickening agent, ensuring your mac and cheese isn't soupy.
  • Milk Marvel: 2 cups of milk, at room temperature, create the base of the creamy sauce. You can use either 2% or whole milk, depending on your preference.
  • Half-and-Half Harmony: 2 cups of half-and-half, at room temperature, add an extra layer of creaminess and richness to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire Magic: 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce adds a touch of umami depth that elevates the flavor profile.
  • Velvety Dream: 12 ounces of cubed Velveeta cheese, at room temperature, melts into the sauce beautifully, creating a luxuriously smooth texture.
  • Sharp Cheddar Symphony: 3 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided, adds a sharp and tangy counterpoint to the creamy sauce.
  • Seasoning Symphony: 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of dry mustard, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg create a symphony of flavors that take this mac and cheese over the top.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creamy Bliss:

  1. Preheat for Perfection: Get your oven nice and hot at 325°F (175°C) – we want that cheese to melt to gooey perfection. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish so your mac and cheese slides out easily after baking.
  2. Pasta Perfection: In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook your elbow macaroni for 1 minute less than the package instructions suggest for al dente. This ensures the pasta won't become mushy when baked. Once cooked, drain the pasta and toss it with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Creating the Creamy Base: While your pasta boils, melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. This roux is the base for your creamy sauce.
  4. Milk Magic: Gradually whisk in the room temperature milk and half-and-half. Whisk constantly to ensure a smooth and lump-free sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then remove it from the heat.
  5. Flavor Boost: Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce for a touch of savory depth.
  6. The Cheesy Affair: Now comes the fun part – the cheese! Gradually add all of the cubed Velveeta cheese and 1 ½ cups of the grated cheddar cheese. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted and smoothly incorporated into the sauce.
  7. Seasoning Savvy: Don't forget the seasonings! Add the salt, dry mustard, black pepper, and nutmeg to the cheesy sauce and stir it all together.
  8. Pasta Party: Pour the cooked and drained pasta into the creamy cheese sauce and stir gently to coat the pasta evenly.
  9. Baking for Bliss: Transfer the cheesy pasta mixture to your greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 ½ cups of grated cheddar cheese over the top. This will create a beautiful and delicious golden brown crust when baked.
  10. Baking Bliss: Bake the mac and cheese in your preheated oven for 15 minutes. This allows the cheese to melt completely, the sauce to become bubbly, and the top to develop a slight golden brown color.
  11. Crispy Perfection (Optional): For an extra-crispy and golden brown topping, you can place the dish under the broiler for 2-5 minutes at the end of baking. Keep a close eye on it to ensure it doesn't burn!
  12. Serve and Savor: Serve your Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese hot and bubbly, spooned directly from the baking dish. This is a dish that's best enjoyed shared with friends and family, but we won't judge you if you decide to keep this pot of cheesy goodness all to yourself!