Festive Baking: Zimtsterne (German Cinnamon Star Cookies)

So, I guess Christmas magic has arrived and everyone is in a festive mood? I’m not yet, probably because I just returned from a 2-week-trip to Goa in India, and spent most of my time sweating in 30° heat, drinking coconut water and getting a tan. Still, I couldn’t help but think of christmas baking, especially when I got to nibble on a branch of a real cinnamon tree and see how cardamome, nutmeg and cloves are grown – the essentials for my traditional mulled wine.. Fortunately the spice farm I visited had a little counter that sold all the spices they grow there – I think I bought about two kilos worth of fragrant spices, which included cinnamon sticks the length of my lower arm, oh joy!

And so here I am, back with a suitcase full of spices and ready to kick-start my festive season metabolism! First up, my very favourite christmas cookie: the Zimtstern. A traditional German cookie, it is full of almonds, icing sugar and cinnamon – no butter needed for these beauties, so yes, you can trick people in thinking they’re low fat  (well, the almonds are not, but who cares!). Make these well-ahead of Christmas and store them in an air-tight container with a slice of fresh apple – and you’ll notice they’ll increasingly become better and better. That’s because the moisture in the apple slice gradually transforms these cookies from hard buggers into chewy little stars, a trick I learnt from my mum, and which is essential to get the right texture for these awesome little treats.

On this festive note, I’ve got a video for you, in which I prepare an absolutely jawdropping soft chestnut meringue roulade, a take on the festive yule log. It’s going to truly make you want to run to your kitchen and impress your guests (and, the best part is, it’s so simple to make, it’s actually ridiculous). You can watch the video here.

Also, if you’re looking for more Christmas inspiration, check out my Christmas baking section in my recipe index, where you’ll find the likes of Stollen, spiced cookies, Vanillekipferl, Gingerbread cookies and orange marzipan chocolates.

December 9, 2012