Cook pasta to slightly al dente. Remove from heat, drain, and place in a large bowl. Set aside to cool while preparing cheese sauce.
Melt butter in a deep saucepan. Whisk in flour over medium heat and continue whisking for about 1 minute until bubbly and golden.
Gradually whisk in 3 cups milk (remaining 1 cup will be used to coat the balls) and 1 cup heavy cream until nice and smooth.
Continue whisking until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking and whisking for another 2 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper.
Add two cups of shredded cheese and whisk until smooth. Add another two cups of shredded cheese and continue whisking until creamy and smooth.
Stir in the cooled pasta until combined and pasta is fully coated with the cheese sauce.
Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop macaroni into little small mounds onto a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or the freezer for 10 minutes.
Pull them out of the refrigerator or freezer and roll into balls.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Pour remaining 1 cup of milk into a bowl.
1 cup flour in a separate bowl.
Whisk 3 eggs into a separate bowl.
Add 3 cups panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme into a separate bowl.
Dip the mac and cheese balls into the milk, then flour, then egg, and finally the bread crumbs. Place the mac and cheese balls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes per batch, rotating balls, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.