These wonderful star-shaped, chewy cookies are gluten free, and "iced" with meringue. They contain ground almonds and cinnamon; Zimt = cinnamon, Sterne = stars.
This recipe is adapted from an old out-of-print German cookbook my mum gave me; Das neue große Kochbuch by Roland Gööck ©1963
10-12 oz whole almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
lemon zest from a small lemon, finely minced
3 egg whites
2 cups icing sugar
up to 1 tbsp rum
additional icing sugar for rolling out
Grind the almonds in a food processor until they are very fine. Add the cinnamon and pulse until it's evenly distributed. Empty the almonds into a bowl. You will have about 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups of ground almonds.
Remove the zest from a small lemon. I used a microplaner. It's a great tool for this because it just removes the very top portion of the lemon's surface without getting any of the bitter white pith. Stir the zest into the almond and cinnamon mixture.
Beat the egg whites. When they begin to get frothy, add the icing sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until the egg whites are very stiff. You can see from the photo above that my egg whites never became super stiff. I have no idea at all why that was the case. I beat those whites for close to 15 minutes. It's rained a lot this week in Dallas and it might have been the humidity, but I wasn't sure.
Remove about 4-5 tablespoons of the meringue and set aside.
Gradually stir the remaining meringue into the almond mixture, about 2 large spoonfuls at a time (you might not have to use all of the meringue depending on the humidity; I had about 4 tablespoons left over) until you have a semi-stiff dough. It will be quite tacky/sticky.
Sprinkle some icing sugar evenly over a piece of parchment and place the dough over that. Sprinkle the top of the dough with more icing sugar. Place another piece of parchment paper over that and roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. The original recipe doesn't call for parchment paper, but when I saw how sticky the dough was, I decided to use it.
Peel back the top layer of parchment paper. This was where things became a bit tricky for me. I wasn't able to peel back the parchment paper because the dough was sticking to it. I placed the entire 2 sheets of parchment paper with the rolled out dough sandwiched between them into the freezer for about 15 minutes. This worked really well. When I removed the dough from the freezer, I was able to peel off the top piece of parchment paper.
Cut out as many stars as you are able to. Gather up the remaining pieces of dough and roll those out again to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out more stars. I was able to do this two more times without having to return the dough to the freezer.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Get the 4-5 tablespoons of meringue you set aside earlier. Stir in enough rum until the meringue is thin enough for glazing the tops of the cookies. I used just under 1 tablespoon of rum.
Place a small amount into the center of a cookie and using the back of the spoon, drag the glaze towards each corner of the star shaped cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are glazed.
Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how chewy you like them. The longer you bake them, the dryer they become; they are fine either way.
Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets before removing them. They should keep for about 2 weeks.