For a while there, bagels got off track. They were Oreo-flavored, they were Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-flavored, and they were even rainbow-colored, like the Play-Doh doughnuts of your youth. But crazy bagel creations can also err on the side of humble, dare I say, homey. Such is the case with a comfort food crossover item that is making its way across the country as we speak: The Mac & Cheese Bagel.
What is a mac and cheese bagel? It seems simple enough, but for the sake of clarity, it’s a bagel topped (not filled) with actual macaroni and cheese, noodles and all.
(Hey, there’s nothing wrong with carbs on carbs, whether that’s a grilled mac and cheese sandwich or a slice of ziti pizza.) Einstein Bros. is bringing this mashup to the masses as of this week, and though there are no Einstein shops in the immediate vicinity of our New York City offices, our team was curious to try them. Luckily, working in food media has its perks and a box of the bagels arrived this morning, with schmears to spare.
The Mac & Cheese bagels (which, without holes in the middle, are more on the side of bialy territory) are light and airy with a dense scoop of the macaroni and cheese in the center and then topped with more melted shredded cheddar to hold it all together. If you’ve ever ordered an asiago or jalapeño cheddar bagel, you’re already a bit familiar with the cheesy, oily sensation. But the boiled noodles, which come from the familiar Annie’s brand of macaroni and cheese, add a contrasting carbohydrate texture to the mix. It really is two comfort foods in one. Some bites are more bagel-y, some are almost entirely the pasta.
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Here are some of our immediate reactions:
“They’re so soft and comforting and a little yeasty, and the mac and cheese topping tastes like the real deal.”
“The mac and cheese is congealed, just the way I like it.”
“I wanted to hate it but sort of really love it. The best part to me though is the gooey sweet-ish bread.”
“The bread part actually reminds me of Portuguese sweet rolls, which I don’t hate.”
“It’s wrong in all the right ways.”
As for the cream cheese question, some of our staff tried it without and were still totally satisfied. I tried it both ways, and bringing a third texture — cold, smooth whipped plain cream cheese — only added to the hearty, indulgent party. That said, we noted that despite all the bread and pasta and cheese going on, these bagels didn’t feel heavy as we ate them. Yeah, we’re still trying to figure the science of that one out, too.
Einstein Bros. recommends using the bagels for breakfast sandwiches or lunch and even has two specialty sandwiches featuring the item on the menu. The Mac & Cheese bagels are available all summer long at any location, along with two other limited-time flavors — Cheesy Hashbrown and Green Chile — as part of its Flavors Across America series.