Zimtsterne, ‘cinnamon stars’, are traditional German Christmas cookies made from ground almonds (almond meal), eggs whites, sugar and cinnamon.
Similar to a macaron, with a crispy outside and chewy meringue centre, the light and chewy almond biscuit is topped with a crispy icing – or frosting. The icing is actually a thin layer of meringue, and is baked with the biscuit.
These naturally gluten free and dairy free biscuits are a wonderful sweet treat on the side of a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or mulled wine, and they also make a wonderful edible Christmas gift along with these gluten free Italian Christmas cookies Ricciarelli, dark chocolate bark, and pistachio and rose petal white chocolate bark.
I was introduced to these spiced cookies by Mr Jones’s work colleagues during our first Christmas in Munich, and have been making them every year since.
Whilst it is not know exactly where or when these German Christmas cookies were first made, their two main ingredients, almonds and cinnamon, were expensive during the seventeenth century and therefore only available for royalty to enjoy. Then, when they became more readily available to everyone, they were reserved for special occasions such as Christmas and traditionally made during advent.
FAQ and Tips
How long do these cinnamon stars keep?
The cookies keep for around 2 weeks when stored in an airtight container.
Can I freeze zimtsterne?
Yes you can. Wrap the biscuits individually and then place in a container and store for up to 6 weeks. To defrost, remove as many as you need and they will defrost in under an hour at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
Ground Hazelnuts: You can use a mixture of ground almonds and ground hazelnuts if you like. Whilst I love ground hazelnut biscuits, I prefer zimtsterne made with just ground almonds – plus they are cheaper too!
Don’t Over-bake! The biscuits will feel soft to the touch when removed from the oven, but will harden as they cool. If you over cook the zimtsterne they can become dry.
If you like this you may be interested in these ground almond (almond meal) recipes:
Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)
- 3 egg whites from medium size eggs
- Pinch salt
- 250 g icing sugar
- 1.5- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 350 g ground almonds
- Oven 140˚C/280˚F
- Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
- Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric whisk until stiff. Sift in the icing sugar a little at a time, whisking inbetween.
- Remove 3 tbsp mixture and put in bowl, placing to one side for the top of the stars.
- Mix the cinnamon with the ground almonds then fold this into the egg whites.
- Sprinkle the work surface with icing sugar - or roll between two sheets greaseproof paper - and roll out the dough to 1 cm thick. Cut out stars with 3 inch/7cm cutter.
- Place stars on baking trays and spread with ¼ - ½ tsp of the egg white mix - either use a pastry brush or the back of a teaspoon.
- Bake for 15 minutes. They will feel soft to the touch.
- Remove on the baking paper to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Will last 2 weeks in airtight container.
- They freeze very well.