America’s Test Kitchen’s Oktoberfest recipes: Spaetzle, Black Forest Brownies

“Gatherings, Casual-Fancy Meals to Share,” America’s Test Kitchen’s newest cookbook, will be released on September 19, just in time to inspire celebrations of all kinds. Before diving into themed gathering ideas, the book begins with a chapter of practical tips on everything from party planning to menu management. ATK and Cook’s Country test kitchen chefs provide recipes and how-tos for everything from a Mexican brunch to a Great British Picnic, a Bao Bar, a Vegetarian Dumpling Party, and — given the season — Oktoberfest.

Mark Huxoll of Cook’s Country created an Oktoberfest at Home spread that includes Schweinebraten, brown butter sauerkraut, beer and caraway pretzels, Gruyere and fontina-topped spaetzle, and Black Forest Brownies.

Spätzle is traditionally made with a spaetzle maker, which forms the eggy little noodles as the batter drips into your pot of boiling water. What, no spaetzle maker? No worries, Huxoll has devised a clever hack involving a perforated disposable foil pan.

“Käsespätzle is the German equivalent of macaroni and cheese — which means it’s always a hit,” he explains.

And what about dessert? “These incredible brownies have all the magic of the classic Black Forest layer cake of chocolate sponge cake, cherries, and whipped cream, but they are much easier to make,” writes Huxoll in the book. “When the brownies come out of the oven, a layer of tart cherry jam mixed with additional Kirsch is spread on top to soak into the brownies as they cool.” As a digestif, I like to serve them with small glasses of chilled Kirsch.”


8 servings


3 cups regular flour

2 teaspoons table salt, plus salt for spaetzle cooking

1 teaspoon black pepper

12 tsp ground nutmeg

1 quart whole milk

four large eggs

Späztle maker or 9-by-13-inch disposable aluminum pan

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

4 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), divided

4 ounces shredded fontina cheese (1 cup), divided


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs until smooth. Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Allow to rest for 15 to 30 minutes, covered.

Meanwhile, position the oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and preheat the broiler. In a Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. If you don’t have a spätzle maker, poke about 40 14-inch holes in the bottom of a disposable pan with scissors.

Set a spätzle maker or a prepared disposable pan on top of a pot of boiling water. Half of the batter should be transferred to a spätzle maker or disposable pan. Scrape batter across holes with a spatula, allowing batter to fall into water. Boil for 30 seconds, or until all of the spätzle floats. Transfer spätzle to a colander set in a large bowl to drain using a spider skimmer or slotted spoon. Rep with the remaining batter.

Remove any remaining water from the bowl and transfer the spätzle to the now-empty bowl. Toss in the melted butter, 12 cup Gruyère, and 12 cup fontina. (Käsespätzle can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Allow to reach room temperature before broiling.) Spread spaetzle in a 2-quart broilersafe baking dish and top with the remaining 12 cup Gruyère and 12 cup fontina. Broil for 5 minutes, or until bubbling and browning in spots. Serve.

Brownies from the Black Forest

This recipe yields 16 brownies.


2 cups dried tart cherries (8 oz.)

34 cup Kirsch (divided)

5 ounces chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

2 oz. chopped unsweetened chocolate

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, quartered

three tbsp cocoa powder

three large eggs

1 pound granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

12 tsp table salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (5 oz.)

12 cup tart cherry jam

Sugar for confectioners


Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the lower-middle position. Fold two long sheets of aluminum foil so that each is 8 inches wide to make a foil sling for an 8-inch square baking pan. Lay foil sheets perpendicular to each other in pan, with excess foil hanging over pan edges. Push foil into pan’s corners and up sides, smoothing foil flush with pan. Grease the foil.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cherries and 12 cup Kirsch and microwave for 1 minute. Set aside, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Melt semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Blend in the cocoa until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then stir in the flour and cherries with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly and leveling with a rubber spatula. 35 to 40 minutes, or until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it.

Whisk together the jam and the remaining 14 cup Kirsch. Spread glaze evenly over warm brownies and set aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Lift brownies out of pan with foil overhang and place on cutting board; discard foil. (Brownies can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.) Cut the brownies into 16 squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve.

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