The 2 Essential Ingredients For Making German Zimtsterne Cookies

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If there's any time of year more packed with baking projects than Christmas, we'd be hard pressed to name it. Between the month of November and the end of the year, for those of us who like to bake, kitchen counters become crowded with bags of flour and sugar, cartons of eggs, sticks of butter, and more than a few fun decorations such as colored sprinkles — all standing at the ready to be folded, beaten, and whipped into homemade gingerbread houses, fluffy panettone bread, and, of course, dozens upon dozens of Christmas cookies.

All around the world, folks roll up their sleeves come Christmastime to create confections ranging from Russian walnut-shaped oreshki to Icelandic deep-fried fattigmann, according to But if there's one country that goes all out when it comes to holiday baking, it's Germany, with a wide roster of Christmas cookies in its baking tradition, encompassing the simple to the ultra-complex.

Zimtsterne cookies feature cinnamon and almonds

If you've ever flipped through a German baking book, then you know that the country takes its desserts very seriously. Never is that more apparent than at Christmastime, according to Luisa Weiss, a Berlin-based food blogger and author whose book "Classic German Baking" includes recipes for holiday treats like pfeffernüsse (German spice cookies). In fact, she even devoted a whole chapter to Christmas baking because, as she mentions on The Splendid Table, it's a major part of German culture.

Some traditional German Christmas desserts are complex, requiring many ingredients or a lot of prep time. For example, Weiss says to make lebkuchen, you need to start the recipe two months before baking because the dough for these classic German cookies needs to be aged, per The Splendid Table. The prettily iced stars known as zimtsterne are — luckily — a lot more straightforward. Besides basic baking supplies and dough-rolling arm power, what's needed to create the signature taste and texture of these festive treats are two main ingredients: cinnamon and almonds.

Made by whipping up a meringue, folding in almond meal and cinnamon, rolling out the dough, and cutting out stars — which are then topped with more meringue — the chewy cookies are plenty nutty and spice-scented, per a recipe Weiss shared with The Guardian. The classic German treat is perfect for accompanying an unwrapping-the-presents cup of coffee or a thick, icy glass of eggnog.