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Happy December! This year I wanted to kick off Christmas Kitchen with a recipe I made for the first time last year, but I made so many times after that to enjoy at home, to give as gifts, and to bring with me to other peoples homes during the festive period: German Cinnamon Stars.
We don’t really know what Christmas is going to look like this year. Maybe we think we do, but at this point, there is no guarantee that things are not going to change, so it is no mistake that I’m kicking things off here with a recipe yes that is suitable for big family gatherings and gifting opportunities, but which also keep in the tin for a good 6 weeks so you can enjoy them throughout the festive period, even if it is just you at home (and if it is, perhaps now is the time to revisit that post I wrote back in 2012 when I was facing Christmas alone in California, 50 Ways To Enjoy A Solitary Christmas?)
This year I’ve tried to plan a paired down series of recipes for Christmas Kitchen, things that can be easily halved, recipes that serve no more than six people, and things that will hopefully bring a little cheer to the end of what I think has been the hardest year I can remember in my lifetime.
Anyway, these German Cinnamon Stars. Also known as Zimtsterne I’ve adapted the recipe to make a smaller batch (because they still take a while to ice and I think a whole batch would take me forever!) from Anja Dunk’s brilliant German cookbook Strudel, Noodles & Dumplings* which I was gifted back when it was first published in 2018 and I don’t mention nearly enough for it’s beautiful writing, unique photography, and, quite frankly, fantastic recipes like the pork chops with paprika, garlic and thyme butter (which is actually the recipe that taught a nice girl from a nice Jewish family like me to cook pork chops) that have taken up a permanent place in my weeknight rotation. Seriously, go order two copies, one for yourself, and one which I can promise will be a much appreciated Christmas gift.
Before we move onto the recipe, just one more note from me: try and seek out a small six pointed star cookie cutter to make these stars, rather than a five pointed one; the wider points afforded by the six pointed shape means you won’t get bits of marzipan dough stuck in the points and you’ll therefore get much neater stars!
These German Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne) are really easy to make to serve with coffee or to give as a gift over the holiday period – they’ll keep in an air tight tin for up to 6 weeks!
For the Cinnamon Stars
250g (8 oz) marzipan (this is exactly half a pack!)
150g (5 1/2 oz) ground almonds
90g (3 oz) icing (powdered) sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
60ml (2 oz) egg white (about 1 large and 1 small egg white, see note)
For the Icing
40ml (1 1/2 oz) egg white (about 1 large egg white)
110g (4 oz) icing (powdered) sugar
spritz fresh lemon juice
Line 2-3 large baking sheets with baking parchment, and pre-heat the oven to 130 degrees (265 fahrenheit).
Grate the marzipan on the largest hole of your box grater (don’t worry if it gets a bit squishy!) and combine with the ground almonds, icing sugar (sifted), cinnamon and egg whites. Using you hands, squish everything together into a uniform dough – don’t worry – it is supposed to get sticky!
Sprinkle a clean work surface very generously with icing sugar (make sure you sieve it, as any lumps will get stuck in your stars!) and, working in two batches and adding yet more icing sugar when things get too sticky, roll the dough out to about 1/2 cm thick.
Cut out your stars and transfer them to the lined baking sheets, bringing the dough together and rolling the scraps out again and again. You’ll also need to clean scraps off the cutter occasionally, to keep your shapes nice and even.
Bake the stars for 15 minutes. They should crack slightly and go a little puffy. Leave to cool on the trays before decorating. This will take a while, so sometimes at this stage I stop and keep them in an airtight tin for a couple of days until I have time to finish them.
To make the icing, using an electric hand whisk beat the egg white into stiff peaks. Fold in the icing sugar and a generous spritz of lemon juice.
Using an eating knife, push the icing into the tips of each star and set them aside to set solid. You’ll figure out a technique for this pretty quickly – as I mentioned, this is a very time consuming job, so I usually do it in front of the television! Leave them to dry for a good 12 hours or overnight before transferring to an air tight tin or packaging them up to give as gifts.
It is easiest to use a carton of egg whites for this recipe, but I’ve included measurements for using whole eggs instead.
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