Dessert, Gluten Free, Dairy Free


I will admit to more than a little stealing in this recipe.

The background:

Dear friends of mine make trillions of Christmas cookies each year. I can hardly begin to name them all, suffice it to say their baking could shame a commercial operation. Or course, of their sparkling display there is one true star in my mind (these are cookies not children, favoritism is allowed)-the zimtstern.

A traditional German Christmas cookie, the zimtstern (literally “cinnamon star) is naturally gluten free, crisp, light, spiced and sweet. Perfect for lunchboxes, holiday parties and afternoon tea, the zimtstern is never out of place.

The cookie is similar to both the French macaron and the Italian amaretti. Indeed, all three are made with the same basics: egg white, almond meal and sugar. The French version is more fussy (surprised?), the Italian variety more rustic, but neither of them pack the spiced punch of the German zimtstern. After baking a number of batches I came to admire the simplicity of the amaretti(they aren’t shaped into stars) and incorporated their ease into this recipe. Of course, changing the shape meant renaming the cookie as these were no longer the “stars” they claimed to be. I call these zimtbissen, cinnamon bites. They are wonderful dipped in coffee and they travel and freeze very well. Make a double batch, you’ll find they disappear quickly

Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, and Corn.

  • 2 cups Almond Meal (hazelnut works splendidly as well)
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
  • 2 Egg Whites

Get Busy

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In your food processor buzz together the almond meal, sugar, cinnamon and almond extract until they look like dirt.
  3. Using an electric hand mixer beat the egg whites until they are stiff.
  4. Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites using as few strokes as possible (your egg whites will deflate somewhat no matter how careful you are). The dough is ready when it looks wet and sticky and there are no pockets of egg white or almond meal unincorporated.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop out small balls of dough, roughly 2 teaspoons per cookie. These are small treats.
  6. Dust the little almond balls with sugar and slide the cookie sheet into your oven.
  7. Bake the cookies for 18-22 minutes, or until they begin to turn brown around the edges.
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the tray. When they are cool, peel them off the parchment paper and serve. You can let them sit uncovered for up to a day, they will gradually get crunchier and are perfect for dipping in coffee après dinner.

Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 18-22 minutes
Yield: 35-40 11/2 inch cookies