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Dec 4, 2021

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies

These zimtsterne cookies are a crispy cinnamon almond cookie shaped into a star for Christmas. 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies with ties



I have seen several explanations of Zimtsterne (German cinnamon star cookies), the most common being that almonds and cinnamon were very dear in seventeenth century Germany, so these cookies were served only at Christmas as a special treat. 

My favorite story is that these cookies are hung on Christmas trees to distract children who cannot keep their hands off of the ornaments. 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies on a tree.



The traditional Zimtsterne are made of sugar, ground almonds, and egg whites. and taste like a cross between a meringue and a French macaron, but with a much more dense texture. 

This recipe contains flour, whole eggs, and baking powder in addition to the ground almonds and cinnamon, making it immensely easier to roll out and cut. They are brushed with egg white and sprinkled with sugar before baking. The cookies still puff up, and are crispy-chewy. The kids totally loved the cinnamon and almond flavor.

I understand that zimtsterne (zimt = cinnamon and sterne = stars in German) are a big draw at the German Christmas markets. 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies with string.



While you don't have to make these into edible tree ornaments, if you'd like to, be sure to poke a small hole in the cookies with a skewer right after they come out of the oven while they are still on the baking tray. 

Once they cool, you can thread colorful baker's twine through the hole to hang them (or just to make them extra cute). 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies with cutters



Kitchen tools you will need (or want) to make these cookies:

Star Cookie Cutters: I have a set with five different sizes and I've made these cookies with two of them. 

Rimmed Baking Sheets: These are so versatile. You can't have too many of them. 

Parchment Paper: I usually buy pre-cut to fit into my baking sheets. They are also wonderful for using to roll out dough between layers to prevent sticking. 

Wire Cooling Rack: For cooling the cookies. They also come in handy for roasting. 

Rolling Pin with Thickness Rings: While any rolling pin will work, I love using the one with the thickness rings to roll out dough evenly for cookies. I'm kind of a rolling pin collector though. 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies on a baking sheet.



Tips for Rolling Out Cookie Dough:

Anytime a recipe calls for flouring your work surface and rolling out the dough, my favorite trick is to roll it out between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper. 

Maybe it's just me, but if I try to roll out a buttery dough on a work surface with a "naked" rolling pin, I always end up with some of it sticking to the rolling pin as well as my kitchen counter. Using paper, was or parchment, seems to solve this problem for me. 

First, I partially roll it out between the two sheets of paper. I will lift off the paper and place it back on top of the dough, and then flip it over and continue rolling. After rolling and flipping a few times, the dough is super easy to cut with cookie cutters. 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies with holes.



For these cookies, I rolled the dough out partially between two layers of parchment paper, lifted up one piece, sprinkled on some powdered sugar, replaced the paper, and flipped the whole thing over, and then continued to roll them out before adding more powdered sugar and flipping again. 

Once you cut the dough out with the stars and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet, brush them with a whisked egg white and sprinkle with sparkling or granulated sugar before baking. I actually used both! 

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies piled up.



By the way, if you are looking for holiday cookies that are easy to ship, these cookies are perfect for that. They are the perfect combination of crispy and sturdy. 

While not traditional, you could dip the bottoms or sides in chocolate for extra flair!! 

Maybe even add some red, white, and green sprinkles!

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies on a plate.


This recipe makes about 60 cookies, enough for you, your neighbors, your office, and your Christmas tree. 

These cookies are super easy to make. I bake them one baking sheet at a time so I don't have to worry about switching out baking sheets. I set the timer for 11 minutes and then add another minute if necessary. 

Bake them on the middle rack of the oven, and when they are done, move them to a wire rack. 

These zimtsterne are perfect with coffee, tea, or ice cream. Plus, they are so cute!

Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies with strings tied through.



This post has been updated in December, 2021. Originally posted December, 2014. 


This month, our Sunday Funday group, hosted by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, is posting recipes for Christmas Cookies from Around the World. 




Zimtsterne | German Christmas Cookies on a plate.



Zimtsterne - German Christmas Cookies

Zimtsterne - German Christmas Cookies
Yield: 60 cookies
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 12 MinInactive time: 12 HourTotal time: 12 H & 42 M
These zimtsterne cookies are a crispy cinnamon almond cookie shaped into a star for Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 4 T (2 ounces) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 C (4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 C (9 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 C (3 1/4 ounces) almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white
  • Pinch of salt
  • Granulated or sparkling sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth.
  2. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
  3. Mix in the extracts.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, almond meal, and salt together. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Whisk the egg white with the pinch of salt
  8. Roll the dough out between two sheets of wax or parchment paper to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick.
  9. Cut the dough with a 2 inch star shaped cookie cutter and place the cut dough onto the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  10. Brush the tops of the stars with the egg wash, and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  11. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes.
  12. To make ornaments, immediately poke a hole in the cookie with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts

Calories

52.35

Fat (grams)

1.91

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.61

Carbs (grams)

7.82

Fiber (grams)

0.39

Net carbs

7.42

Sugar (grams)

3.77

Protein (grams)

1.16

Sodium (milligrams)

39.84

Cholesterol (grams)

8.24
cookies, zimtsterne
Cookies, holiday
German
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This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. They've just come out with a newer version, which I just bought and can't wait to get! 

Would you like to comment?

  1. Now I'm going to have to add a sixth tree to my holiday decorating just so I can decorate it with these adorable cookies - then eat them like crazy.

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  2. I consider making these each year but have never gotten to work and baked them. After reading your post, I think I should do it..... I do not think they would last long enough to make it onto a Christmas tree!

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  3. These are so classic and beautiful! Love the almonds and cinnamon. :)

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  4. Those are so cute, Karen! I love the way they puff up to create almost three-dimensional stars. Perfect for hanging on the tree!

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  5. They look so perfect.... would love to have them for Teatime.....

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  6. Oh so pretty! These would be gorgeous as decorations but hard not to eat them all first!

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  7. Great anecdotes about the Zimsterne, Karen. And what a wonderful distraction indeed to have precious cinnamon scented, sugar studded cookies on the tree....BTW I enjoyed your gingerbread tradition, too. Thank you for the intro to the German Christmas cookies =)

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  8. The Zimsterne sound delicious - the almond cinnamon flavor, the way they're somewhat macaron-like without being overly fluffy (or sweet). The pretty star shape and your explanation of the history this cookie are wonderful too.

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  9. Look at those darling cookies. Loved the post on them. And If I were you, I would search that neighbor boy and feed him ginger bread all day until he got stuffed. Sweet revenge for a traumatic experience ;)

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  10. I LOVE these cookies! Exactly what I was hoping for! And such awesome stories! Also--I had to laugh about the gingerbread house story, sounds like when my dad carved the most amazing pumpkin ever--it looked like Darth Vadar--and some boys came and smashed it. I was devastated lol....

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  11. It's been far too long since I've had these, and I love the idea of hanging them on the tree

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  12. Hello Karen, these cookies look like they're very interesting and I have almonds in the mix even better, they look great very nice pictures indeed I'm going to try this recipe this Christmas and make them into ornaments to hang on the tree , I did the gingerbread ,have six grandchildren that will love these cookies.

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  13. Thanks for allowing me to feature your recipe in my round-up of 60 Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipes on Taste As You Go. Happy Holidays, Karen!

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  14. I love the idea of hanging cookies in the tree to distract kids from the ornaments. Those families, obviously, did not have 4 dogs who have the run of the house LOL. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe Karen.

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    Replies
    1. Ha!! We don't have any pets so I completely forget about that dimension.

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  15. This will be my first Christmas with a Christmas tree (a small one) but haven't bought the ornaments as yet. I think I'm going to decorate it with cookies only and perhaps add sprinkles one top. Such a wonderful cookie recipe and must be so aromatic with cinnamon added.

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  16. Love this cookie recipe, going to try these soon!

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I would love to hear from you!