Cinnamon star cookies (Zimtsterne) are a traditional part of the Holiday Season in Austria and Germany. Cinnamon and almonds taste great together; the smell of the cookie in the oven is mouthwatering. The history of the cookie is interesting as well. Cinnamon was a rare and rather expensive spice in Europe, and almonds had to be imported. Only the rich and Royals could afford both throughout the year. Ordinary people used cinnamon and almonds only for once-a-year festivals such as Christmas.
The cookie has an interesting texture. A little bit chewy with a crisp shell of meringue on top. It tastes like a macaroon with a nice hint of cinnamon. They are just heavenly, there is no other Christmas cookie like it.
Different ovens and different altitudes make it hard to estimate the exact baking time. Rule of thumb: When the tip of the stars starts to brown, that’s when the cookie is ready. Although it’s never a bad idea to try a few hot cookies right out of the oven -somebody has to be the Guinea pig.
A few tips and tricks to make this cookie a success:
The dough can be sticky and tricky to roll. I roll it on wax paper and cover the dough with a larger piece of plastic foil. This way the dough can’t stick to the rolling pin or to the kitchen counter -it never fails. I use this trick for many cookie recipes.
- Dip the cookie cutter in powdered sugar after you cut out a few cookies. Repeat this after every 3rd or 4th cookie. This way, the dough won’t stick to the cookie cutter.
- Use almond meal, if it’s available in your area. Grinding almonds can be tricky. Too much power and you get almond paste.
- Mix 250 g ground hazelnuts with 250 g ground almonds. It still tastes fantastic and making the cookie won’t be so expensive.
Cinnamon star cookie:
- 500 g Ground almonds
- 300 g Powdered sugar
- 2 TBSP Cinnamon
- 2 Egg whites
- Dash of Salt
- 2 TBSP Almond Liquor (I use Amaretto) You can use lemon juice instead
- Powdered sugar for the kitchen counter (or wax paper)
- 1 Egg white
- 1 dash of salt
- 125 Powdered sugar
Beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy, add the almond liquor. Continue beating until medium stiff peaks form. Gradually add the powdered sugar and cinnamon and continue mixing until glossy stiff peak forms. Use a wooden spoon and add the ground almonds (almond meal). It will be a soft dough.
Refrigerate dough for 1 hour (or a few days if you make the dough ahead).
Roll the dough (see tips) to 1/3 inch thickness and cut cookie using a star-shaped cookie cutter (see tips). Place the cookie 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet (or on wax paper).
Bake in the oven at 275 for 8 minutes.
In the meantime, mix the egg white with salt and powdered sugar and beat until a glossy, stiff peak form.
Get the cookies out of the oven and add the meringue glaze with a brush. Use a toothpick to reach the tip of the stars.
Put it back in the oven and bake for additional 8 minutes or until done. Store them in a cookie box for up to three weeks. All cookies stay longer fresh and soft if you put an apple slice in the box (make sure the apple piece doesn’t touch the cookie).