Winning recipe for Mexi Mac 'n' Cheese Bites from 'Recipe to Riches'

Here is Cyra Belbin's winning recipe for Mexi Mac 'n' Cheese Bites:

Mexi Mac 'n' Cheese Bites

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

500 ml (2 cups) elbow macaroni

125 ml (1/2 cup) each milk and 35 per cent whipping cream

30 ml (2 tbsp) unsalted butter

30 ml (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour

1 pkg (250 g) sharp cold-pack cheddar cheese product (such as Imperial Cheese), cubed

300 ml (1 1/4 cups) cheddar cheese, shredded

1 plum tomato, diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced (seeded, if desired)

15 ml (1 tbsp) drained pickled jalapeno, finely diced

Vegetable oil, as required for frying

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) cornflake crumbs (from 925 ml/3 3/4 cups cornflakes cereal)

175 ml (3/4 cup) Parmesan cheese, finely grated

75 ml (1/3 cup) cornmeal

2 ml (1/2 tsp) dried basil

125 ml (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

2 eggs

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni for 5 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain. Set aside.

Warm milk with cream in microwave. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually add warmed milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until melted.

Remove from heat. Stir in macaroni, tomato and jalapenos. Spread on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until cool and firm enough to form into balls, about 1 hour.

Coating: In a shallow dish, stir together cornflake crumbs, Parmesan, cornmeal and basil. In another shallow dish, place flour. In a third shallow dish, whisk eggs.

Form macaroni mixture by the heaping tablespoon (15 ml) to make 36 balls. Coat in flour, shaking off excess; coat in egg, then cornflake mixture, turning to coat all over. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate.

Into a large shallow saucepan, pour enough vegetable oil to come 5 cm (2 inches) up side of pan. Heat over medium to medium-high heat until temperature on deep-fry thermometer reads 190 C (375 F). In batches, fry macaroni bites for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, or until golden. Skim off any floating crumbs between batches. Drain on cooling rack or on paper towel.

(Make-ahead: Fry and cool completely. Wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving. Reheat in 180 C/350 F oven until crispy.)

Makes 18 servings.

Source: Cyra Belbin of Halifax.