Zimtsterne, or cinnamon stars, are traditional holiday cookies of German origin. Meringue-based, they are delicate, light and airy. They are also a pain in the ass to make. Or maybe they would be a little easier with a few modifications to Sharon Tyler Herbst directions.
The nut-laced meringue is very sticky and, according to Ms. Herbst, “somewhat temperamental” to work. Really? Rolling out a meringue based on egg whites and powdered sugar is difficult? Who would have thought?
Truth is, it was kind of a nightmare. A couple of things (thank you, interwebs) that might have helped to know a little less belatedly than I learned them: Instead of greasing and re-greasing baking sheets, line them with parchment paper; instead of spreading the meringue out on a floured flat surface, spread it on a layer of parchment paper dusted with powdered sugar; and instead of using a rolling pin directly on the surface of the meringue, dust the surface with powdered sugar and lay another piece of parchment paper over it. Also, do not use flour. Period. Keep the cookie cutter clean and dip it in powdered sugar. Often. Or you will have lots of cookies that begin to look more like blobby fat stars than the sleek shapes you thought you were cutting. See exhibit B to the left.
Richly flavored with cinnamon, lemon zest and ground almonds, Zimtsterne are a melt-in-your-mouth-delicious confection, no matter their shape. Follow Ms. Herbst’s directions when it comes to reserving a bit of the unadulterated meringue for topping for a shiny, swirly finish on top. You will be glad you went to the extra effort.