Zimtsterne: Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies.....Week 7

There's no point in telling you these cookies were simple to make. They weren't. But they ARE a true European Christmas cookie; interesting, frustrating,  unusual and yes, tasted wonderful, but will I make them again? Well....maybe. And compared with some of the other photos I found online of these, all I can say is: I had a bad baking AND camera day. Oh well, I'm going to post this anyway. They were worth the trouble.

First of all, 
Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, The Many Meals of Rose Bakery is a gem of a cookbook.

And that's where I found this recipe...they called it Almond, Cinnamon and Meringue Biscuits. But what they really are is Zimtsterne, or erstesternen ("first stars"), a reference to the heavenly signs indicating the end of a fast day. They are traditionally served by German Jews at the meal following Yom Kippur. You can read more about them
here, here and here. European bakeries make them only during the holidays, rather like my mother's favorite Christmas cookie, Springerle. And they are usually made in star shape. I made them round. For one thing, I didn't have a small star cookie cutter and for another working those star points with that dough and meringue was beyond me. Perhaps with practice.....

This is what David Lebovitz says about them (and he doesn't make his own, he buys them):
"There’s just something about these chewy little stars, spiced with lots of cinnamon, then brushed with a glaze of royal icing that provides just the right bit of creamy sweetness in contrast to the chewy cookie below."

So here's the thing. The dough is difficult to work with and I made two different batches, correcting the original recipe a little to make it slightly easier to work with. Still....not the easiest cookie dough to roll out. But as I said, after the first bite, it was worth the effort!
Bench note: many recipes call for 1/2 cup candied citrus peel which I omitted 'cause I just don't like it.


Adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea, The Many Meals of Rose Bakery

3 1/3 cups ground almonds (I used almond flour)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon and grated zest of 1 lemon
4 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted


First, make the meringue. Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Then very gradually add the sugar. When the mixture is very stiff, beat in the lemon juice. Set aside 6 ounces of the meringue for the topping, covering with a damp cloth. Place the rest in a bowl.
 Add the ground almonds, cinnamon and lemon zest and mix by hand. Mix until you have a dough-like paste. If it is too sticky to handle, add more ground almonds, by the tablespoon, until it is manageable. If the dough crumbles or falls apart, add a few drops of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the reserved egg whites. When the dough has reached the proper consistency refrigerate for one hour.
 Butter a baking tray and line it with parchment paper.
 Then dust a pastry board lightly with granulated sugar. Shape the dough into a flat round and dust the surface lightly with sugar. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 3/8 inch thick. Add more sugar on the board as necessary.
 Cut into desired shapes and place on the baking tray.
 Remove the cloth from the reserved egg whites. Use a metal spatula to smooth an even coating of the meringue over the entire surface of your cookie, just enough to cover it completely with white. To smooth the surface further, dip the spatula in hot water and run it across the glaze.
 Leave to dry on the prepared tray for about an hour.
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes until the bases are lightly golden. The tops should remain white and the bases must be soft and moist. And BTW? Keeping the tops from  browning is another tricky part!

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)


  1. They sound wonderful, but I will not be attempting them! I know my limitations!

  2. Beautiful cookies, I might give them a try I have some days off comming up ;~)

  3. These cookies Barbara look amazing and delicious!! xx gloria

  4. Another gorgeous cookie. I can't wait to start baking for x-mas!! Have a lovely day!

  5. I am trying to think whether I've ever had these but I can't say that I have. They sound delicious! I would love a whole tray.

  6. Those are some of my favorite cookies! Yours look delicious.



  7. They look delicious! I would love some of them!

  8. Beautiful cookies. I love European style cookies.

  9. they look good, but you scared me off! now where is my easy bake oven..

  10. I know what you mean by not easy to make. I made German cookies as well and they weren't the easiest in the world. I love yours. They look so beautiful.

  11. Not a meringue fan, so I won't be making them either, but I think your photos and cookies are lovely!

  12. I'm w/David Leibovitz on this - will be buying them, especially since you confess they're difficult to work with. But hats off to you for taking up the challenge - LOVE your fearless spirit Barbara!!

  13. seem like German cookies, did you have fun on your trip? thanks for the tips on West Palm beach Cafe Boulud was lovely

  14. Bookmarked this! I think this is a fabulous recipe. Kids would love this. Thanks for sharing and hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

  15. Good for you tackling a difficult recipe, Barbara!! I've started paging through my European Christmas baking recipes and CAN'T WAIT to get started!!! :-) Love the looks of these. :-)

  16. I don't have patience for cookie baking to begin with so I guess I'm out unless you take pity on my cookie-less soul! lol

    Good for you Barbara for tackling such a challenging cookie!

    Happy Friday!

  17. The cookies sound wonderful, Barbara! They would be the perfect baking project for a snowy day...bookmarking! :)

  18. I've never seen cookies quite like these Barbara. They look great :)

  19. A delicious cookie.

  20. Yummerz! I would love two of these with my peppermint tea right now:)
    They do look very Christmas-esque by the way (smile). I feel like I've had them before but can't place when or where...?

  21. I also have this book, and i've got to say its in my top 10 cookbook lists. I am happy to say that the restaurant in Paris is as lovely as the book. I dont remember coming across this cookie though, will have to have another look.
    *kisses* HH

  22. I'm going to make my own real soon so it's nice to see yours. They look great. I'd never heard of them with candied peel but absolutely detest it so won't be giving it a try. Actually, I found the quite easy to make which is surprising as I'm useless with macaroons. Great job! I must get that Rose Bakery Book too.

  23. I can imagine with the ground almonds that they might be a bit crumbly but they sound delicious! I think you did a find job with them and I wish I weren't abstaining until the holidays but I'm saving a copy of the recipe since it sounds so wonderful.

  24. Hi Barbara,

    I think your biscuits look divine and they would taste so good too.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe and when I am adventurous, I would like to try these.

    Happy weekend

  25. If they are as good as they look, they are worth the effort. I can't tell you how many sugar cookies I have rolled and decorated through the holiday years. While I miss the reason for doing them, I'm looking forward to spending my time on something a little more sophisticated and tastier!!


  26. These sound delicious and look like it, too! Thank you so much for sharing them. : )

    Pam @ From Apples To Zucchini

  27. I don't know why you said that you had a bad day with these cookies because they look great and I bet they taste as good as they look.

  28. I think they look great... I can't say that I am up to the challenge of making them as that kind of baking is not my strong suit but Kudos to you for persevering and making the little buggers...you would never know it was a struggle. I have this image of you as a cool-as-a-cucumber cook, moving effortlessly around your kitchen... still do!

  29. I get easily frustrated with fussy dough, but these cookies do sound delicious! The meringue topping looks great, and I really want taste one for the different textures.

  30. I had these cookies earmarked to try years ago; I think I found them in Maida' book anyway, I never did; yours look good and the interplay of flavors sounds perfect for a little indulgence after a meal.

  31. These sound delicious. Do you let the mixture dry just at room temperature?

  32. Barbara, those are beautiful!

  33. I am with Pam on this one!

  34. what an incredible cookie!! I don't think my skill level is up to the challenge, but I would certainly enjoy eating them!
    thanks for a wonderful post!

  35. Wow, all I can say is I appreciate the trouble you went through for these... I don't know that I would have made it all the way through!! :) Great job.


  36. rose bakery hs opened a restaurant here in Paris and it is very popular !!Pierre

  37. Very interesting cookies! Thanks for sharing.

  38. I loooove eating Zimtsterne during the holiday season in Alsace--thank you for sharing the recipe! And just thinking about Rose Bakery is making me hungry...such a great place!

  39. Oh Barbara, u have come come with these gorgeous cookies and i feel like i wanna bake them rite away!
    They sound soooo good and totally worth it!!
    Am definately going to try these, and love them too!

  40. BDW, the pics are pretty enuf to tell us how delicious these are:-)
    Gosh totally love them!!
    Does this book have pics, lods of them?
    I some how dont warm to books without pics:-(

  41. I do love any cookie with almond in it...however, I am very finnicky about frustrating doughs...so thanks about making a point of explaining it to us.
    Now, thanks to you...I was educated on a cookie I've never had. I'll probably look for it at the pastry shop ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  42. how interesting! i was surprised to see the short list of ingredients (and the fact that this is week 7!). great share, barbara!

  43. I love the name of these cookies, I clipped a recipe out of a magazine once just because of the name. I'm sure I've made them before but cannot remember what they tasted like. I think I'll have to give these a go and jog my memory.

    Really? Week 7!!

  44. Barbara--isn't it amazing how some simple looking (as in very few ingredients) can be confounding!! Brava to you for staying with the Zimsternes.



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