These "Zimtsterne" cookies are a very traditional part of the Christmas and Advent offerings to guests in Germany. Cinnamon and almonds taste great together and are traditional ingredients in German "Adventskekse." Many people buy them packaged, but they are easy to make and taste better than the store-bought. Handmade cookies are also appreciated as little gifts, or "Mitbringseln", when visiting friends, too.
Makes 3 1/2 dozen, 2-inch cinnamon star cookies.
- 4 egg whites
- 390 grams powdered sugar, about 3 1/2 cups
- 400 grams raw almond meal, about 4 cups
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 oz. Kirschwasser (optional)
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Continue beating for 5 minutes after the last addition. The mixture should be very stiff, like the icing used to hold the gingerbread house together.
- Remove 1/2 cup of meringue and set aside for icing.
- Fold in the raw almond meal and the cinnamon. Add the Kirschwasser, if you are using it, and incorporate.
- Chill the dough for about 1 hour.
- Using ample powdered sugar on your baking board or clean countertop, pat the dough into a square and roll out to 1/2 inch thick (or 1 centimeter). Cut out stars with a cookie cutter. Powder the cookie cutter between each cut. Place stars on a non-stick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cutting out the stars is a sticky process. Wash off the cookie cutter as often as necessary to achieve sharp star points.
- Brush or spread the icing on each star, working it out to all the points.
- Let the stars dry overnight (about 24 hours, if you can), an oven is a good place if you don't forget they are there and preheat for something else.
- The next day, heat the oven to 325°F. Bake each tray for 10-15 minutes. This is to dry out the cookies a little more and bake the egg whites. Try to remove the cookies before the icing turns brown, although a little brown tint can look nice.
Store these cookies in a dry place at room temperature.
Notes: You can make the almond meal yourself in a blender or buy it in the baking aisle of many grocery stores or natural food stores. The price for 1 pound ranges between US$ 4.00 - 16.00.
Some Zimtsterne recipes ask for blanched, ground almonds. These are perfectly fine to use but the extra step of removing the skin is quite a bit more work and does not affect the final product much.