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Zimsterne (Cinnamon Star Cookies)

A batch of German cinnamon star cookies in a jar on a wooden board.
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4.9 from 23 reviews

Zimsterne, or German cinnamon stars, are the best Christmas star cookies bursting with cinnamon flavor and topped with a snowy white royal icing. They bring the beautiful German tradition to your home and make a great edible gift.

Ingredients

Scale

For the cookie dough:

  • 6.2 oz (175 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 teaspoons (125 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (25 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoon (50 g) hazelnut meal 
  • 1/2 cup +1 teaspoon (50 g) almond meal
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

For the white royal icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups + 5 teaspoons (200 g) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) egg whites, room temperature (see note #1)
  • several drops of lemon juice

* If needed, please refer to Baking Conversion Charts.

Instructions

  1. To make the cookie dough, place softened butter, granulated sugar, and ground cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix. Add egg, hazelnut, and almond meal and mix again.
  2. Add the sifted all-purpose flour and mix to combine. Remove the cookie dough from the bowl and form a ball.
  3. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment paper (sprinkled with icing sugar) to the thickness of 0.4 inch (1 cm) and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. To make the white royal icing, whisk the egg white with icing sugar and 3 - 4 drops of lemon juice using an electric mixer.
  5. Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and spread a thin layer of royal icing with a bent spatula. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Cut out cookie stars with a 2-inch (5 cm) star-shaped cookie cutter by dipping it in hot water and drying it out between cutouts. Remove cookies by pushing them underneath, and arrange them on a baking sheet covered with parchment.
  7. Bake cookies in the middle of the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes. They must be baked, but the royal icing must not be colored. Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool down on a wire rack.

Notes

  1. 30 g egg whites are approximately equal to 1 fresh egg white from a medium-sized chicken egg. 
  2. Use six- or five-star cookie cutter interchangeably. If you do not have a star-shaped cookie cutter, make them diamond or triangle-shaped. Feel free to use your favorite but simple cookie cutter.
  3. If the cookie dough is too soft while cutting, bring it back to the fridge for a few minutes and continue.
  4. For a neat appearance, cut the star cookies after spreading the royal icing, pushing them underneath to remove them.
  5. If you are short on time for the recipe technique, cut out cookies first, then use a small spoon, a pastry brush, a little butter knife, a small offset spatula, or even a toothpick to spread the meringue icing on top of the cookies.
  6. Test and adjust your oven. Do not overbake cookies; otherwise, the royal icing turns brown. You strive to get the icing as white as possible, but a little brown tint can look beautiful, too.
  7. The remaining cookie scraps (offcuts) are not as pretty as cinnamon stars, but you could bake them as well. They are delicious.
  8. Store cookies in an airtight container in a cold place for a month.

Nutrition

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