In this world, there are some food pairings that seem like second nature. Mashed potatoes and gravy, peanut butter and jelly… they were always meant to go together—or so it seems. But at one point in history, these combos didn’t exist. It’s only at the hands of a few brave culinary visionaries that we have been blessed with the likes of the PB&J.
That makes me wonder what other food combinations we’ve been missing out on simply because we’ve never experienced them before. Enter the mac and cheese-stuffed cookie from The Vulgar Chef. At first glance, Kraft mac and cheese encased in a chocolate chip cookie sounds like something straight out an incoherent nightmare. But hear me out. The savory-sweet trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon; it’s even evident in the cookie world with the excitement we’ve seen over the NYT gochujang caramel cookie recipe. So, why can’t savory and sweet come together yet again in cookie form? In theory, the savory mac and cheese should pair beautifully with the sweet cookie dough and chocolate chips, and the fat and carbs in both dishes should create a sense of harmony.
I decided to try it out for myself, slightly adapting The Vulgar Chef’s recipe to account for my very average skills in the kitchen. To be fair, though, this is a pretty simple recipe. It all starts with making the Kraft mac and cheese. You can add in extra cheese in addition to the powdered stuff if you want; I didn’t because I’m lazy. I also made sure to keep the mac and cheese on the drier side—I only used half the recommended amount of milk. That’s because I wanted the noodles to stick together inside the cookie; I wasn’t trying to eat this thing with a fork.
Then came the cookie. If you have more energy than I do, you can feel free to make your own cookie dough. Instead, I grabbed a tub of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough from the refrigerated section of my local grocery store; considering the recipe, this didn’t seem like the occasion to make everything from scratch.
First, I laid some cookie dough out on a sheet pan and flattened it slightly to form a bed for the mac and cheese. Then, I spooned a small amount of the mac onto the cookie. In The Vulgar Chef’s video, he refrigerated the mac and cheese and then, using a cookie cutter, cut it into small rounds. Since I was trying to make smaller cookies, I didn’t take this step, instead leaving it up to the gods to determine the shape and concentration of mac in the interior of the cookie. I then took another flattened portion of cookie dough and placed it over the top of the mac mound, making sure the edges were neatly sealed, and sprinkled some salt and MSG (trust me on this one) on top. I popped the pan in the oven for around 13 minutes, then took the cookies out and waited for them to cool.
Admittedly, my mac and cheese cookies came out less visually stunning than The Vulgar Chef’s; the smaller portion of mac and cheese made my version a bit less eye-popping. That being said, I think I managed to create an ideal ratio of cookie to mac and cheese. The chocolate chip cookie was definitely the dominant flavor, while the mac and cheese provided an important textural element. The chewiness of the slightly dried noodles really added a surprising mouthfeel to an otherwise standard dessert, and the subtle cheesiness made it feel so much more indulgent than an average cookie. And if you’ve ever had Kraft mac and cheese before, you know that it’s not the most flavorful of dishes, so I think adding that salt and MSG on top of the cookie really gave it the savory touch it needed to come together so well.
The key to enjoying this dish is to make sure you’re serving it at the proper temperature; it really needs to be warm so the cheese gets melted and mingles with the buttery chocolate chips. Additionally, the mac and cheese can get a bit tough if it’s left out at room temperature, so you may want to pop your cookie in the microwave before eating it if you’re not enjoying it straight out of the oven.
Listen, if you want to be a hater, go for it. I’m not going to force this cheesy, chocolate-y masterpiece on anyone who doesn’t understand the primitive thrill of this level of carb consumption. But at least hear me out and try the recipe for yourself first before you judge.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.