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    I Made This Panera Mac 'N' Cheese Copycat In 20 Minutes And My Life Is Forever Changed

    TWENTY. MINUTES.

    For some people, it's the sound of their mother's voice. For others, it's the touch of their partner's hand. For me, the ultimate form of comfort is mac 'n' cheese from my friendly neighborhood Panera Bread.

    NBC / Via giphy.com

    What does that say about me? IDK! I'm not a therapist.

    Panera's mac 'n' cheese is irresistibly rich and creamy. I can't think of anything better on a cold (or just bad) day. Actually, JK. I can think of something better: being able to make that mac 'n' cheese at home whenever I want!

    NBC / Via giphy.com

    Imagine!!!

    So, I found this copycat recipe (from a blogger who could only stomach bagels and Panera's mac 'n' cheese at the beginning of her pregnancy, so you know it's legit) that's ready in just 20 minutes, and decided to put it to the test.

    Hulu / Via giphy.com

    πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”

    Making this mac 'n' cheese isn't particularly difficult, but you do need to keep both a watchful eye and whisk on your "roux" β€” butter and flour whisked together to thicken a sauce.

    Tom Vellner / BuzzFeed

    You melt some butter in a large sauce pan, add the flour, and whisk constantly for one minute. Then, you gradually whisk in milk, and continue to whisk until your mixture thickens and bubbles. TBH, my arm was pretty tired after whisking for several minutes straight. And you really do need to be diligent with your whisking β€” I stopped just for a couple of minutes to grate some cheese (OK, AND TO REST), and the bottom of the sauce started to burn.

    The next step is the real ~heart~ of this recipe: In your saucepan, you add white American cheese, extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, Dijon mustard, hot sauce (!!!), and kosher salt. Then, you mix it all up and combine it with your pasta.

    Tom Vellner / BuzzFeed

    That's right, y'all. Dijon mustard. And. Hot sauce. The woman behind this recipe says she got it from Panera's website a while back when they posted it for a short time. Is this fake news? Am I too trusting? Again, IDK! I'm not a therapist.

    So, what was the verdict here? Well, for one thing, I think I'm French now because I made a roux. Second, this mac 'n' cheese looked IDENTICAL to Panera's, and only tasted slightly tangier.

    panerabread.com, Tom Vellner / BuzzFeed

    The appearance and texture of this mac 'n' cheese were dead ringers for Panera's version. Like, I would've believed this was actually from Panera if someone randomly placed it front of me. It's downright luscious.

    It tasted just like Panera's too β€” except that it was a tad tangier because of the dijon mustard. I loved that extra bit of flavor, but if that's not your thing, reducing it certainly wouldn't ruin this recipe. It's tasty as hell, and I can't wait to whip it up again the next time I need a lil' pick-me-up β€” or an arm workout.

    The only question now is: "Bread, chips, or an apple?"

    reddit.com

    Get the recipe here.

    I'll be testing lots of great dupes (and not just food!) in the coming weeks. Let me know your favorites in the comments! πŸ‘€

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