I just entered this into a state-wide mac and cheese cook-off, and it went over really well, the crowd was crazy about it, some people even coming back for thirds. =) This hits the sweet and salty craving right where it counts! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do, and this brings you a little taste of New England.
2Cook pasta according to pasta directions just until done - You don't want it mushy, because it will absorb a little of the cheesy liquid in the oven, and strain it and add it back to your pasta pot.
3Bake your bacon at 375 on a cookie sheet for about 10-13 min. until JUST crispy but not burned.
4Shred your cheese with a grater or food processor with grater attachment OR just dice it up real small so as to melt easily. set it aside. (you can do this while your bacon is cooking, just keep an eye on it! ;) )
5Drizzle the bacon with maple syrup and put back in for 3 min. watch it carefully so as not to burn it.
6small dice all of your cooked bacon and set aside
7take all your onion and add about 2 TBS of butter, and 1/4 tsp of salt and add to a sautee pan. Cook on medium low-medium, stirring every so often until caramelized. (about 30 min). add 2 TBS maple syrup in the last 5 min. of cooking. They should be a dark golden color. Strain all excess grease out of the pan( I threw it in a strainer and pushed the onions down to ensure all the grease was gone.) and set aside with the bacon.
8Combine soup, evaporated milk, butter, salt, and pepper in a large microwaveable bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a small vent, and cook for 6-7 minutes until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm-to-hot throughout. (If making a half batch, 4 minutes in the microwave should do it).
9Add to cooked pasta.
10Add cheese a little at a time, stirring constantly until everything is melted and incorporated.
11Bake for 40-45 minutes until Golden brown on top
12Serve with Maple Syrup drizzled over the top.
FOR CROCK POT: Follow directions 1-5, leave your crock pot on low and cook for 4 hours.