Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente; don't overcook. Drain in a colander and rinse under running water until cooled slightly. Set aside.
Melt butter in 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add flour and mustard and whisk constantly for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in milk, cream, onion, andouille, bay leaf, and paprika, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes longer.
Gradually stir about 1 cup milk mixture into beaten egg, then add egg mixture back to milk mixture in pot. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and TABASCO® Sauce, and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and stir in macaroni. Pour into a greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
To make topping, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat; stir in bread crumbs and remove from heat. Sprinkle cheese evenly over macaroni, then sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, cut casserole lengthwise down the middle, then across into 1-inch bars. For breading, set up three bowls: in one, combine flour and cayenne; beat eggs in the second bowl, and place bread crumbs in the third. Dredge macaroni bars in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, and place on a baking sheet. Work quickly; don't over handle. Let bars rest in refrigerator 20 minutes to set crumbs.
Heat several inches of oil in a deep-fryer to 350°F. Fry bars, a few at a time, 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Season hot bars with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes about 20 bars.
*Panko, or Japanese-style bread crumbs, are coarser than ordinary bread crumbs and make a lighter, crunchier coating. Look for them in the Asian section of larger supermarkets, or substitute cracker crumbs or regular bread crumbs. This recipe was a finalist in the third national TABASCO® Cook & Ladder® Competition. Submitted by Firefighter Bill Maddalena, Berlin Fire Department, New Hampshire.