Käsespätzle – Germanys answer to Mac and Cheese

Käsespätzle a.k.a. cheesey spaetzle a.k.a. German cheese pasta a.k.a. Germany’s version of mac and cheese. The beauty of this dish is the fact that there is about as many different varieties and recipes for it as there are people on this planet (well, ok, maaabye a little bit less than that). So besides the cheese and the noodles part, yet again something that Kaesespätzle have in common with their American counterpart mac and cheese. Spätzle dishes can be found in Southern Germany (Bavaria and Baden-Würtemberg), Austria and Switzerland and it never fails to make me happy.

Since ready-made spaetzle tend to only be available in German speaking countries and mostly in the Alpine regions, this recipe also includes a recipe on how to make your own spätzle at home. If you are living in the US, you can actually get a spätzle maker at Target (click here), you can however also use a plastic bottle (soft enough that you can squeeze it) with a cap size of at least 1 inch. Just poke a 3-5 larger holes in the cap. Alternatively you can use a salad strainer (like this one) with large holes.

Servings: 4 * Preparation time: 20 min * Start to finish: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs (500 grams) of spätzle noddles (see below for making spätzle from scratch)
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) of shredded Alpine cheese/German, Austrian, Italian or Swiss mountain cheese (Emmentaler, Gruyere, Appenzeller etc. – ordered in accordance to their level of sharpness)
  • 8 ounces (250 ml) of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 spring onions
  • 4 generous tablespoons of caramalized or fried onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius. Then bring a pan to medium heat and add a teaspoon of butter and then add the onion. When the onion dices are slightly browned, pour in the milk. Then drizzle the grated cheese into the pan. Make sure to stir while the cheese melts and creates a smooth cheese sauce.

Place the spaetzle in a casserole dish and then pour the cheese sauce on top and mix the two. If you made the spaetzle noodles from scratch, your dish is now ready to be served. If you use ready-made spaetzle noodles, bake them in the oven for 15 minutes.

For serving, cut the spring onions into rings and drizzle them on top of the cheese spaetzle with the fried onions.

German spaetzle recipe (Preparation time: 20 min)

  • 1/2 lbs (250 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of lukewarm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Whisk the eggs, water and salt in a large bowl, then add the flour by scooping one tablespoon after the next into the bowl. After adding each tablespoon, work the flour into the dough using a spatual or large cooking spoon. The goal is to have a smooth yet firm batter.

Bring a pot of water to boil and squeeze or scrape or press the spaetzle batter into the water. The slower you scrape (using a traditional spaetzle maker or a salad strainer) or squeeze (if you fill the batter into a bottle with holes in the cap), the longer your spaetzle will become. I tend to prefer the tiny, round dough bits, which are called Knoepfle in German, which means tiny buttons.

Let the spaetzle cook for a few minutes. They are done, if they swim on the surface of the water. Depending on the size of the spaetzle, this will take between 2 and 5 minutes). Pour them into a sieve and cool them down with cold water. Thereby they keep their shape and don’t glue together.

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