Another family favorite. Delicious but kind of hard to make! Sticky dough, sticky glaze... I used to make sure my kids were far away when making these cookies because I might have used a couple of swear words to move things along.
These cookies date back to the 16th century and make their first appearance into various cookbooks in the 18th century. The first varieties were unglazed, others had a glaze applied to the hot cookie after baking which dried by the residual heat. And I think I found a method to make these cookies that feeds no anger.
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (300g)
- 14 ounces ground almonds (375g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 cup ground almonds mixed with 3/4 of a cup of confectioners’ sugar
Combine the egg whites with the lemon juice. With your electric mixer, whip into a creamy froth on medium setting. Slowly add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, a quarter cup at a time and continue to whip until medium hard peaks form. Reserve 1/3 of the egg white mixture for the glaze. Add the 14 ounces of almonds and cinnamon to the remaining 2/3rds of the egg white mixture. Combine well to form a sticky dough.
I have experimented a lot with my method of making these cookies! I have tried to roll out the dough and freeze it for an hour. Glaze the cookies after cutting them out (which I have no patience for). Freeze the rolled out dough with the glaze or just chill it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before cutting out the cookies. I found that chilling the dough with the glaze made it easier to cut out, for sure, but it also means that it feels like making these cookies takes an entire day! I use the back of a sheet pan as a work surface if I want to chill the dough. I line it with parchment paper and slide the entire sheet pan with the glazed rolled out dough in the fridge.
Coat your work surface with the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar mixture. Invert all of the dough onto your work surface and roll it out with a wet wooden rolling pin or just press it along with slightly moist hands. Try to get it to about 1/4" thick. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the glaze over the rolled out dough, reserving at least 1/4 of the glaze for later. Use a star shaped cookie cutter, mine is 2" in diameter. Dip the cookie cutter in water and tightly cut out the cookies, leaving as little space as possible in between. Set the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let them dry for one hour.
Knead the leftover dough and glazing bits together, coat your work surface with the almond and sugar mixture and roll out the dough again. Spread the glaze over the rolled out dough and cut out more cookies. Repeat.
Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200ºF and bake the cookies for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. They are done when the bottom is beginning to get brown, the glaze is supposed to stay white. Don’t be alarmed if they still feel very soft, they will continue to harden as they cool.
Zimtsterne should be stored in a parchment lined metal tin instead of an airtight container. Store in a cool room if possible. You might even leave the lid ajar, that’s what my grandma did. They need the humidity in the air to stay soft. Store for up to 4 weeks.