Traditional European Christmas foods – Zimtsterne Cookies, Germany
Zimtsterne cookies are as much a traditional part of German Christmas celebrations as jolly old St Nick. Mainly consisting of ground almond and cinnamon, these cookies have a wonderfully warming Christmas smell. In the past, cinnamon was very expensive and almonds had to be imported so any foods containing both of these were only for very special occasions such as Christmas.
Nowadays, if you visit anywhere in Germany during the festive period, you’ll no doubt smell these cooking and hopefully be offered one of these amazing creations.
In our first look at delicious traditional European Christmas foods, I had a go at making these pretty cookies. I tweaked a recipe that I found on BBC Good Food.
- 2 large egg whites
- 200g icing sugar
- 250g ground almond
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp lemon juice*
*I didn’t have a lemon so used a teaspoon of freshly squeezed orange which worked just as well.
Making the mixture
Heat the oven to 150°c/ fan oven to 130°c.
Once you’ve separated the eggs, pop the two egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until they go nice and fluffy.
Add the lemon juice/ something acidic to help the egg whites to create soft peaks. To check this just gently lift your mixing blades out of the mixture and if ready, it should leave little peaks.
Slowly add in the icing sugar. (Don’t tip too much in at once because once the blades hit, it creates a similar scene to a snowy kitchen-wonderland!)
The mixture should start to stiffen. I stopped mixing when everything was blended in and it was a stiff white gloop. At this point, remove around 3 dessert spoons of the mixture, pop in a bowl and put to the side for later.
Now mix in the almonds, cinnamon and ginger. The mix will combine together and stiffen pretty quickly to leave a sticky dough.
Place a piece of baking paper on the surface and put all the mixture on it. Place another piece of baking paper over the top. This worked brilliantly for stopping the mixture sticking to the rolling pin.
Roll the mixture out so it’s around half a centimetre thick. I accidentally made them slightly thicker and they didn’t bake as well as I expected them to. Next time, I’ll definitely make them thinner.
To make the authentic German style cookies, use a star cutter. I used a scone cutter and that worked fine, although didn’t create a lovely Christmas-sy shape.
Once cut out pop them on a baking tray covered in baking paper.
Spread the remaining meringue mixture over the tops of the cookies, then place in the oven for 12-15 mins. When the tops of the biscuits started to brown I removed them from the oven.
Leave to cool for a little bit and enjoy the cinnamon-y aroma wafting around the kitchen.
Then tuck in – delicious!