How on earth do you judge the best recipe for macaroni cheese? Should it be a subtle twist on a classic version or something radically different? Should it be comforting and creamy or have a spicy edge? I wouldn’t have believed there were so many different permutations.
For sheer originality it was hard to beat Amuse Bouche's Chocolate with White Chocolate and Lime Cream Cheese not least because he had made his own pasta but the brief did specify that originality meant your version rather than something totally off the wall. Great invention but not a mac!
James of The Cotswold Food Year also made his own macaroni for his luxurious lobster mac which was served in a half lobster shell - the perfect Valentine's Day dinner, he suggested.
Another indulgent entry was Mathilde's Mac'n'Cheese à la Française which included two kinds of mushrooms, white wine and Comté, Mimolette and Gruyère cheese
Garlic Confit did a round-up of the best macs in London in his entry ending up with a version that included sundried tomatoes, cavolo nero, cheddar and alpine cheese and - appropriately enough - lots of garlic.
Meemalee (above) introduced extra crunch and texture with her secret ingredient - a couple of packs of plain potato crisps
While Cheryl of Back Seat Gourmet made hers extra healthy and kid-friendly by sneaking in some puréed squash or pumpkin
By contrast Matt for Food For Friends Yeah! submitted his straight down the line mac'n'cheese with cheddar and honey-roast ham and Wheeling Gourmet went for an all-American version with bacon (above)
Rosie of Salad Club also used ham, pointing out that mac and cheese was a great way of using up the leftovers from a Christmas ham.
Helen of Food Stories went for broke with her 'macaroni cheese for an army', cooking a ham hock specially for her mac then cooking the pasta in the stock (a genius touch). Then she created a super-crispy topping with cheese and panko crumbs.
For others it was beer that was the inspiration. Elly of Pear Café in Bristol submitted her delicious-sounding Macaroni Cheese with Welsh Rarebit topping. using Doombar beer while Lizzie of Hollow Legs used Tanglefoot and caramelised onions in her version (above)
Gin and Crumpets went for a classic British version, drawing on old English cookery books and flavours like bay, nutmeg and mustard
Swedish Mike of Freestyle Cookery gave a Swedish version Makaronilada which is based on an easy-to-make egg and milk custard rather than the classic bechamel.
Several of you felt that macaroni cheese needs a touch of spice including Julie Broczkowski of The Magic Fridge in Ottawa who submitted her Tex Mex version.
For Vickie aka Vix it was a touch of smoked paprika that lifted her macaroni cheese above the ordinary (she also used Red Leicester along with her cheddar
And two entrants went for a Spanish vibe, using Manchego and chorizo: Scott of Scott Can Cook also added a dash of sherry to his Mac N' (Man)Chego (above) while Alex and Carlo of Recession Recipes added sweet and hot paprika and spicy piquillo peppers to theirs (below).
Linda of With Knife and Fork went for a regional British version with her Lancashire Macaroni cheese with Lancashire cheese (obviously) and black pudding
Feast on Scraps by contrast went for a blue cheese (Gorgonzola and Stilton) and broccoli version with fresh Strozzapreti pasta.
Finally a couple of entries from dedicated mac'n'cheese aficionados.
Hilary of We Heart Mac and Cheese entered her Cheese Drawer Mac and Cheese using no less than five different cheeses (Cheddar, Gruyère, Jack, Smoked Gouda and Parmesan), topping it with a scattering of smashed crackers.
And Susan of Food Blogga sent us the tasty Italian Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta and Fontiago she had submitted to a new Wisconsin Macaroni and Cheese Blog which may provide further inspiration if your appetite for mac'n'cheese is not yet sated!
So, some amazing recipes! Thank you all for taking the trouble to take part and for all the time and effort you've put into your entries. I do hope I've included them all. Do mail me if yours has slipped the net or if you find the link to your site isn't working
Cookery writers Xanthe Clay and Marlena Spieler, author of Macaroni and Cheese, will be joining me in the unenviable task of selecting the winning recipe. As I mentioned we didn't manage to persuade Emma Bridgewater to donate her lovely macaroni cheese dish but it seems such an appropriate prize I'm going to get one for you anyway. Good luck!