I am sure having a blast planning and testing out some deep fried deliciousness for the big game next Sunday. A few years back I featured a recipe for deep fried mac and cheese balls in my and Celine's book Home Cooked Vegan Comfort Food. And they were delicious...But, I felt for a game as important as the 50th, I needed to step it up a notch. And as I said in my previous post, buffalo is a must for gameday. I also changed the batter up to include an almost corndog like flavor. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside. They aren't too spicy, just a hint of heat. That way you can add extra heat to your liking with a variety of dipping sauces! (As if deep fried mac and cheese wasn't good enough on its own...)
Me? I'm a sucker for a liberal drizzle versus a dip, so I choose to serve them up in paper hot dog trays just dripping with sauce (in this case Follow Your Heart Vegan Bleu Cheese and Spicy Buffalo Aioli (below) made with O'Brother That's Hot! Habanero Hot Sauce) and healthy dose of Sweet and Smoky Chipotle Seasoning (below) and a sprinkling of green onions to keep it bright.
Beer Battered Buffalo Mac and Cheese Balls
These are really easy to make, but I still recommend doing it in two days. Make the mac and cheese, scoop and freeze the balls on day one, then batter and fry on day two. Makes it seem like it doesn't take as long. Haha. And please note, this recipe yields about 50 to 60 balls! I mean if you are going to, or hosting a party, that's perfect, but if you are just watching the big game in your PJs with your partner, like I am, well, you might want to cut the recipe in half. (Or you could make a full batch of the mac, use half of it for balls, and eat the rest of it with a spoon!)
For the Buffalo Mac and Cheese:
1 pound (454 g) dry elbow macaroni
1 cup (112 g) shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya Cheddar Shreds)
8 ounces (227 g) vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese)
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot sauce
1/4 cup (56 g) vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons (28 g) vegan mayo (I used Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
1 tablespoon (15 g) prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon (8 g) onion powder
1 tablespoon (8 g) garlic powder
salt, to taste
To make the mac and cheese, prepare macaroni according to package directions, strain and return to pot. Stir in all of the other ingredients and mix well until thoroughly melted and combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a reusable baking mat. Using a mini ice cream scoop, or a spoon, scoop about 2 to 3 tablespoons of mac and cheese into balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Place in the freezer to harden. (This step is essential, otherwise you will never be able to batter your balls!)
For the Beer Batter:
2 1/2 cups (313 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (210 g) yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
2 cups (470 ml) vegan beer, IPAs work great here (use Barnivore to check if your beer is vegan!)
1/2 cup (120 ml) hot sauce
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened vegan milk (I used almond)
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) agave nectar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Oil for frying
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet. Add the dry to the wet and mix until well combined and no lumps are present.
If you have a deep fat fryer, now is a good time to use it. If not, us a deep pot (I use a small one, when I am not using the deep fryer, so I don't waste too much oil) filled with at least 3-inches (7.5-cm) of oil heated to 350 F.
Have ready a tray lined with paper towels. Batter your balls, one at a time, using tongs. Carefully transfer battered ball to the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a tray to absorb excess oil. Repeat with remaining balls.
Spicy Buffalo AioliThis easy to make sauce is great for dipping these balls in, but also tastes pretty f'ing amazing on an assortment of finger foods!
1/4 cup (56 g) vegan butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot sauce (the spicier the hot sauce, the spicier the aioli)
3/4 cup (168 g) vegan mayo (I used Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use. If you wanna get fancy, put it in a squeezy bottle for delicious drizzling.
Yield: 1 1/4 cups (295 ml)
Sweet and Spicy Smoked Chipotle SeasoningI took a cue from my own playbook (see what I did there?) and was thinking about how great the spicy smoked pepper shake I made with Jackie for our hush puppies and thought these balls could use a little of that same love!
2 tablespoons smoked sea salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
Place all ingredients into a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and grind into a superfine powder. Transfer to a shaker. Use liberally on anything you want to add a sweet, smoky, spicy flavor.
Yield: 1/4 cup (32 g)