Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Zimtsterne 1

Zimtsterne are classic German Christmas cookies that, when translated, mean Cinnamon Stars. This comes from the words Zimt, meaning cinnamon, and Stern, meaning star. They are made to represent the Christmas Star and are a very traditional part of Weihnachten (Christmas) and Advent offerings to guests in Germany. A six-pointed star is the traditional shape for these cookies, but it really doesn’t matter if your cutter only has five points.

Being naturally free from gluten and dairy, I would describe its texture as a cross between a macaroon and a meringue. The cookie itself is light and deliciously chewy, with a wonderful balance of almond and cinnamon flavours, with the baked meringue frosting giving it a lovely subtle crunch.

Zimtsterne 2

You’ll only need a few ingredients to make these little gems. Just egg whites, lemon juice, almond meal/flour, icing sugar, vanilla sugar, ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. The dough is rolled out, cut into star shapes and then painted with a meringue glaze, before baking.  However making them does take a little time and patience, but they are definitely worth the extra effort.

They also make the perfect Christmas gift.

Zimtsterne is pronounced Zimt-ster-ne, for audio click here.

If you’re looking for a cupcake with a difference this holiday season, I have a wonderful recipe for Zimtsterne Cupcakes. They have a wonderful light and fluffy texture, and are delicately flavoured with cinnamon and a hint of vanilla. The cinnamon buttercream complements the cupcakes perfectly, and the finishing touch is a Zimtsterne cookie placed on top, for a gorgeous Christmas inspired cupcake. The size of the star cutter I used was approximately 3cm (this measurement was taken at it’s widest point).

For accurate cup measurements, I sift the icing sugar before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.

Makes approximately 45 stars

2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon juice
194g (6.8 ounces or 1½ cups) pure icing sugar, sifted (I use this brand)
252g (8.9 ounces or 2¼ cups) almond meal/flour
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla sugar (recipe found here)
2-2½ teaspoons (10ml-12.5ml) ground cinnamon, to taste
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 130C, and line to 2-3 trays with baking paper/parchment.

Make sure your bowl is completely clean and free from any oils before you start.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form,

Step 1

then add the lemon juice and sifted icing sugar. Beat together on a low speed, until combined, scraping down the sides as necessary. Once combined, increase the speed to high and continue beating, until the egg white mixture is thick and fluffy with a glossy shine. This should take about 5 minutes. Transfer 5 tablespoons of the meringue mixture to a small bowl and set aside, as this will be used for the topping.

Step 2

Now use a sturdy spatula to fold in the almond meal/flour, vanilla sugar, ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt in to the meringue mixture. Although the dough will be a little sticky, it will still be quite easy to work with.

Step 3

Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper/parchment, until it is approximately 5mm in thickness, and then cut out your Zimtsterne using a star cookie cutter (mine measured just over 5cm at the widest point). To help stop your cutter sticking to your dough, keep a small bowl of cold water nearby, then just dip the cutter into the water and shake off any excess each time, before you cut out the shapes.

Step 4

Gently push the stars from the cookie cutter and then place them on the prepared trays a couple of centimetres apart, as they do not spread too much. Once they are all on your tray, brush the top of each one with the reserved meringue mixture, making sure you coat them evenly but not too thick or too thin.

Step 5

Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven, for approximately 12-14 minutes, until the meringue is set but not browned. If you’re making the smaller 3cm stars, they take approximately 6-8 minutes. I find that by placing an empty tray on the top shelf of the oven, it helps the meringue not to brown too quickly.

Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for about 5 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 6

Then store in an airtight container.

Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse

Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.

Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 325F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8

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