Zimsterne are a delightfully unique cookie. The special texture makes for a chewy and crispy bite in one. The nuttiness, cinnamon and lemon zest create a complex flavor topped off with a sweet meringue frosting. These cookies are time consuming and you will really thank yourself if you have a stand mixer rather than a handheld mixer. They are also dairy free and gluten free so are great for your friends with special dietary requests.
1.5 c raw almonds
1.5 c confectioner’s sugar
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1 teaspoon water
For the cookies…
1) In a food processor, pulse almonds with 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar until finely ground. Add cinnamon and lemon zest–pulse twice.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and salt with an electric mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually whisk in remaining 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Continue to whisk until the meringue is glossy and stiff but not dry, 15-20 minutes. Transfer 1/3 cup of the meringue to a small bowl (this is for the frosting). Combine the remaining meringue with the nut mixture–pulse until the dough comes together. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Dust top of dough lightly with confectioner’s sugar (almost as if it were flour) and roll to1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough using star shaped cookie cutter (or really any shape you like). Place on parchment lined cookie sheets one inch apart. You can reroll this dough 4 or 5 times without worry of the texture changing.
4) Stir the water and meringue and brush the mixture generously over the tops of the stars. Bake rotating halfway through until cookies are firm when gently pressed–but not dry. About 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire rack until completely cool.
Cookies can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container. Yields about 3 dozen depending on the size of the cookie cutter.
From Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 2010.