Zimtsterne German Christmas Cookies Cinnamon Stars Or Zimtberge
Zimtsterne, also known as Cinnamon Stars are one of my beloved Christmas cookies. But it’s not just loved by me, zimtsterne are also one of the most popular of all German Christmas cookies. Once you’ve tried them you’ll know why. They are a cross between a macaroon and a meringue but with more flavor. Cinnamon and nuts are a perfect, heaven made, combination. Zimtsterne are the perfect cookies for Christmas time with their warm cinnamon flavor and nutty chew. Plus these cookies keep well for about 2 weeks in a airtight container, but I guarantee they won’t be sitting around long.
Zimtsterne are the only Christmas cookie that I know of that tastes good without butter. If it weren’t for the hazelnuts (you can substiture almonds) they would be low fat too. They simply don’t need butter because they are a meringue type cookie. I just love chewy cookies and you can’t get much better than these cinnamon stars. Just don’t overbake zimtsterne otherwise they turn very crisp, unless that is what you prefer.
These cookies can be a little testy to make because the correct consistency for the dough can be a little off at times. This can be due to more moisture in the air or, like the mistake I used to make, using nuts out of the freezer. Frozen nuts are more moist than nuts off the shelf. This can cause the dough to be too moist and sticky making it impossible to roll out and cut out star shapes. But don’t worry there is a simple solution to this dilemma. Simply make them into drop cookies called Zimtbergen. They are called zimtberge, which means cinnamon mountains, because they resemble mountains topped with snow. They taste the same and you don’t have to fiddle around with the dough. But if the dough does roll out nice and is shapeable, God willing, then you can go ahead and make the beautiful star shapes.
Zimtsterne have four simple ingredients: powdered sugar, hazelnuts or almonds, cinnamon, and egg whites. You will first have to grind your nuts into a fine grind. A food processor is ideal.Then whip your egg whites to stiff peaks. The trick to getting egg white to airate is a very clean, completely grease free bowl. There also cannot be any yolk in the egg white or it will not form peaks.
Add the powered sugar little by little. Reserve some of the egg white mixture to frost your cookies. You will need 1/3 cup to frost the cookies.Carefully knead in the nuts, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon to the remaining egg whites. This should form a fairly stiff, workable dough. If the dough is too dry and crumbles too much when you try to roll it, you can add a little more egg white back into the dough but not more than 2 tsp. at a time. It’s OK if it crumbles a little, especially at the edges.But in the event that the zimtsterne dough does not roll out and is too sticky to work with simply drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with the reserved egg white and top with a optional hazelnut.
If you can roll it out (you may need to coat your table with a little powered sugar) the dough should be 1 cm thick or slightly under half an inch. Then simply cut out star shapes with a star shaped cookie cutter. I like to roll it out onto the parchment paper that is on my cookie sheet. Otherwise, the star shapes can stick onto the counter.
Using a butter knife spread a thin layer of the reserved egg white mixture on top of each cookie. If you run out before coating all your cookies you can whip up more egg white and sugar mixture.
Then bake about 15 minutes. The cookies should still be a little soft, especially in the middle, when you take them out of the oven. Otherwise they will become too hard when they cool.
These cookies keep well in an airtight container and even get chewier over time. They will stay fresh for at least two weeks. But I bet you will never have zimtsterne around that long, they are too yummy!