Last year I made Zimtsterne (or “cinnamon stars”) along with sugar cookies to take to my parents’ for Christmas. I’d never heard of Zimtsterne before but I figured they were worth a shot: there’s few ingredients and I thought they’d be a great surprise for my lactose-intolerant mom. Well, the cookies didn’t turn out too well. They were more Zimtsteine (“cinnamon stones”) than Sterne; I think I didn’t grind the almonds finely enough. But this year, at my husband’s insistence (aka “if you made them, I’ll eat them”), I decided to give them another try but with a German recipe. After my latest attempt, I’m still trying to decide if it was a mistake. I’m starting to think that Zimtsterne are some master success of German engineering that I just simply can’t understand.
Earlier this week I did my cookie prep work of grinding the almonds so that they’d be ready to go later in the week for maximum freshness. I made sure to grind them as finely as possible in my food processor to avoid last year’s issues. And I have to say, although I’m not a big fan of nuts, the ground almonds had a wonderful smell.
I had the recipe picked out and translated for a while, wanting to go with a specifically German one, but then, of course, after I did my almond grinding I found an additional recipe in English. After spending a day thinking about it, I decided to just go with my original plan. And I have back ups for next year!
When it got time to roll the dough out and cut out the cookies, I quickly had that feeling of deja vu. The “dough” was just way, way too wet. It stuck to the parchment paper while being rolled out. It stuck to the cookie cutter. If I did manage to get a cookie cut out, it looked limp and sad by the time it got wrestled from the parchment paper and onto the cookie tray. So I started mixing in powdered sugar. More. And more. And still more. After a good long time hunched over the table, I finally got enough of a routine worked out (powdered sugar both sides, roll out some, flip, powdered sugar again, roll out more, flip, cut cookies, repeat). The recipe I used called for the cookies to rest over night before baking. After my evening of frustration I decided to skip that and just get them in and out of the oven. (It should also be noted that I skipped the brandy.)
Once the cookies went into the oven they really baked out more than I expected and were very, very fragile. I had a lot of fractures, fragments and cracks. Oh well. My husband assures me that they taste good.
translated from http://www.chefkoch.de/rezepte/1303261235391764/Zimtsterne.html
5 egg whites
450 g powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cherry brandy
500 g almonds, ground
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Carefully mix the powdered sugar, cinnamon and cherry brandy with the beaten eggs. Take out about 8 tablespoons of this mix for the glaze and place in a small bowl.
Stir the ground almonds with the rest of the powdered sugar-egg mixture. Let the dough stand in the refrigerator for about an hour. Roll the dough out between foil to about 1/2 cm thick and cut out stars. Place the stars on a sheet with parchment paper and paint with the glaze. Let the Zimtsterne rest over night.
On the next day, bake the Zimtsterne for exactly 5 minutes at 220°C and let cool.