Concerns: low mac:cheese ratio, thinness/soupiness of the cheese sauce after stove-top cooking, sharpness/bitterness of cheese flavors, lack of density and stringiness in final product.
Successes: elimination of the roux/flour flavor, overwhelmingly cheesy flavor, excellent topping, leftover potential, overwhelmingly positive feedback from TSB and my roommate.
Mistakes: I was so irritated by the sauce to pasta ratio as I was incorporating the noodles that I scooped two or three full cups of sauce out of the mix and threw it in the fridge (which reminds me that I still need to dispose of it). In retrospect, I should have left it in, as it seems that it would have been a non-issue once baked.
Strategy: Next time, I will maintain the amount of cream but reduce the milk to a pint, maybe fatten it up from 2% to whole milk, raise the roux by a tablespoon each of flour and butter (leaving 1 tablespoon from the stick left to butter the dish), and spend more time getting the initial béchamel to thicken before adding the cheese. I’m going to return to Cabot extra-sharp cheddar and monterey jack as well, even if I do have to have my cheese smuggled in from Vermont. I might play with the cheese blend some other time, and in the future, I may attempt the inclusion of reserved pasta cooking water, once I figure out why it is so prevalent in other recipes.