Despite the fact that I rarely bake cut-out cookies, I seem to have amassed a large cookie cutter collection over the years. And one person who seems to highly appreciate this part-time hobby of mine, is my little boy.
He loves nothing more than to stamp out shapes from Playdoh, and I despise nothing more than separating the Playdoh colours and cleaning up the sticky mess afterwards. But a good compromise for us is to bake cookies together – he gets to use as many cookie cutters as he likes, and I then have afternoon tea sorted.
The current festive period has seen us baking lots of Christmas cookies for our friends and neighbours, and my son is delighting in all of the odd cookie cutter shapes in my collection. Pigs and dinosaurs have suddenly found their place in the nativity scene, as well as various fruits and cars.
One popular recipe at this time of the year in Switzerland are Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne). I posted a similar recipe a few years ago for Swiss Walnut Christmas Cookies. What I have since discovered is that various nuts can be substituted in the recipe – you could use ground almonds, ground hazelnuts, ground walnuts, or a combination of all three. You are also not limited to the traditional star or flower shapes.
I recently came across another update to this recipe using chocolate, an idea which I have incorporated into the recipe below.
These cookies are traditionally covered in a simple icing but, this year, I couldn’t manage to contain the icing to the star shape – my first batch looked like my son had dolloped a big blob of icing over the top of each one, rendering the stars more like planets. But these cookies are actually rather sweet by themselves, and a simple dusting of icing sugar was all that was needed to make these stars twinkle.
- 2 eggwhites (approx. 70g)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 200g (7oz) caster sugar
- 350g (12½ oz) ground almonds
- 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tablespoon Frangelico or Baileys (Kirsch is more traditional, or you could simply use vanilla extract)
- icing sugar for dusting
- Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, whisk the eggwhites with the pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Slowly add the sugar with the beaters on high speed.
- Reduce the speed and add the ground almonds, ground cinnamon, cocoa powder and liqueur of your choice (or vanilla extract). You should have a fairly sticky dough.
- Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 1cm thick. Cut out shapes of your choice and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. As the dough is fairly moist and sticky, you might need to use a palette knife or spatula to lift the cookie shapes.
- The cookie shapes need to dry at room temperature for about 6 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Bake the cookies for 3-5 minutes until they are dry to the touch.
- Remove the cookies to a cooling rack to dry completely.
- Dust with icing sugar before serving.
- The cookies keep well in a covered container for about 2 weeks.
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If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird