12 Days of Cookies: Cinnamon Star Cookies (Zimsterne)

cinnamon star cookiesGrowing up, this recipe for Cinnamon Star Cookies  was always the one I looked forward the most at Christmastime.  My grandmother was the only one in the family who made them — because, as you’ll see, they’re just a teeny bit complicated to make.   When step 1 is “Make a chocolate cake” you know you’re in for the long haul with this recipe.

But their uniquely chewy, chocolate-y texture is completely unlike any other cookie I’ve ever had.

Cinnamon Stars, or Zimsterne, are a traditional German cookie that features almond and cinnamon. Both ingredients were extremely expensive and hard to find in the “Old World,” making these a special holiday-only treat.  The recipe I’m sharing today is my German great-grandmother’s recipe.

Cinnamon Star Cookies

1 egg plus 1 egg white
1 pound almond paste (2 8-oz cans)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp dutch cocoa
3 cups chocolate cake crumbs (yes, this means you will be making a chocolate cake before you can make these cookies).
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder

1. Beat the sugar into the eggs until light and fluffy. Add the almond paste and mix until completely incorporated. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well.

2. Rest the dough overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, roll the dough out into a sheet 1/4″ thick. The dough will be very sticky — you may use up to 1 cup of white flour to help prevent it from sticking.

3. Dip a star-shaped cookie cutter into flour, and cut out cookies. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

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