Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars) are German Christmas cookies that are as delicious as they are beautiful!

stack of Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Quinn tends to be a bit more ambitious in my baking than I am. He thought these Zimtsterne cookies would be a great addition to my holiday baking roster. I agreed that they looked and sounded delicious, but I wasn’t sure about the painstaking efforts involved in making them. I came up with a compromise, though, that he help me bake them. He quickly agreed, being a fool for painstaking details like rolling out dough and icing cookies.

Also known as Cinnamon Star Cookies, Zimtsterne are a traditional German Christmas cookie. (The name literally translates to cinnamon stars.) They are described as being somewhere between a macaroon and a meringue. With that combination, they manage to be both a little bit crunchy and a little bit chewy. They immediately reminded me of a pecan meringue cookie my mother used to make.

I find that this dough is much easier to deal with after it has been in the freezer for about 20 minutes. That provides some stiffness that makes cutting them easier and helps them stay together better. If you’re having similar troubles when making them, try chilling them in either the freezer or refrigerator, and I think you’ll quickly see the difference.

stack of four Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Even with such a short list of ingredients, these cookies are surprisingly not short on flavor. The combination of cinnamon and almonds is a definite winner. Despite all the almonds in these cookies, that almond flavor is not overpowering.

Zimtsterne are always an excellent addition to my holiday baking lineup. Just be warned that these are definitely a labor of love. If you have the time and patience for a little extra effort, however, they are certainly worth it.

Find more cookie recipes in the Recipe Index.

More Cinnamon Cookies

Yield: about 24 cookies

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Zimtsterne are delicious cookies that exist somewhere between a macaroon and a meringue.

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Ingredients

  • 2 & 1/4 cups (247g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 15 ounces (425g) sliced almonds (about 4 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.
  2. Place 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar, 10 ounces (283g) of the almonds (3 heaping cups), and the cinnamon in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground.
  3. Using an electric mixer on high speed, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Continue whipping and gradually add the remaining confectioners' sugar, mixing for about 2 more minutes. The whites should be thick, creamy, and somewhat stiff. Set aside 2/3 cup of the egg white mixture for tops of cookies.
  4. Gently fold the ground almond mixture and lemon zest into the egg whites mixture. The dough will be stiff.
  5. Lay a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper on a clean, flat work surface. Place the dough on the paper. Flatten the dough and lightly dust with confectioners' sugar. Cover the dough with another sheet of paper.
  6. Roll the dough between the  papers to a 1/4-inch thickness. Carefully flip the dough over. Gently peel off the top sheet of paper. Lay the paper back onto the dough and flip again. Peel the other sheet of paper so that the dough is not stuck to either sheet of paper.
  7. Using a 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gather and re-roll the dough as needed.
  8. Use an offset spatula or small spoon to spread the remaining meringue mixture on top of each cookie. Do not let the meringue drip over the sides. Place the remaining almonds on top of meringue in whatever pattern you like.
  9. Bake 30 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are light golden brown and the meringue is set and crisp. Turn off the oven and open the oven door. Leave the cookies in the oven for 10 minutes to allow them to dry.

Notes

The dough can be frozen between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 2 weeks. The baked cookies will keep for 10 days in an airtight container and will become chewier.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network.

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