Zimtsterne - Cinnamon Star Cookies

12:40 PM

these cookies are Christmas classic in Switzerland and their spectacular icing make them the star of the holiday
My regular readers will know that Christmas cookies in my home mean "Swiss Style" and last year I made a point of sharing the recipe for my Milano cookies (Mailänderli) and Brunsli cookies

I meant to post the recipe for the absolute star of Swiss holiday cookies last year, but I ran out of December, Christmas, and yes, cookies to take picture of (this is how delicious they are).
So much so, that at the end of December last year, I made an appointment with myself this year to plan this blog post ahead, preferably before they were all gone.

Zimtsterne is a German word that means "Cinnamon stars" and in the French speaking part of Switzerland we call them "Etoiles a la cannelle". Which, you guessed it, translates as Cinnamon Stars.

These cookies are extremely popular and are always shaped like a star (duh!). What sets them apart from all the other cookies is their pure white icing. A feast that requires royal icing and that my own mom never attempted. To be fair, most people buy the ready to use dough in stores, and the packet doesn't mention how the icing is supposed to be done. This has lead to most people thinking that the original recipe is super complicated and that it was faster and nicer to buy the cookies ready made.

The secret to the cookie dough AND icing is in the egg whites. Both the dough and the icing are made with royal icing. If you don't eat eggs, this cookie recipe is 100% not for you and I don't think there is a viable substitute for the eggy part.
Before I give you the recipe, keep in mind that this dough need rest before being used, allow at least 8 hours of resting time in the fridge, the more the better.
Over the years, I found that it much simpler to make two batches of royal icing rather than take a portion of the first batch to be used to coat the cookies later. This ensure the egg whites are at their freshest, and I then freeze the leftover icing.


- 3 fresh egg whites
- 1 pinch of salt
- 250g icing sugar
- 2-2.5 tablespoon cinnamon powder
- 1 tablespoon of Kirsch (Swiss cherry liquor) or lemon juice
- 500g ground almonds (with skin)
- White flour as needed

How to do it:

1) In a mixing bowl beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks.

2) Add the icing sugar to the eggs and fold until you have a smooth paste. This is your royal icing basic recipe. 

3) Add the cinnamon powder, Kirsch (or lemon juice) and almonds and combine as evenly as possible. At this point you will have a very very sticky dough. Add some white flour gradually until the dough stops sticking to your fingers but is still soft.

4) Wrap your dough in cling film and keep it in the fridge for at least 8 hours to allow the cinnamon flavour to develop and the almonds to soak up the moisture. If you are really organised and planned in advance, you can freeze this dough for several weeks before use.

5) Once the dough has rested, make a second batch of royal icing as per the recipe above. You might want to cut the number of eggs if you do not plan to put the excess in the freezer though.

6) Preheat your oven at 200 degrees celsius and roll down your dough to about 7-8mm thickness. Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter (to be traditional, it has to be a star).

7) Place your cookies on a baking tray lined with babking parchment and bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for about 8-9 minutes (they should just start to brown on the edges).

8) Spread the icing on the cookies as soon as you can after you took them out of the oven. Ideally the cookies should still be a bit hot. Then let the cookies cool down on a cooling rack. They can then be transferred to a cookie tin the instant the icing has hardened.

Enjoy them all through the month, or spread the joy by gifting them to family and friends.

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  1. Oooh! That looks yummy. I'm getting ready to bake some pfeffernussen. Got the dough chilling in the fridge now. Chilling these shaped cookies really makes a difference, especially in warmer climates.
    Hey Cyn, how do you get that pink bar like at the top of your blog that has home, archives, recipes, about me, etc?

    1. I suspect the reason I need to add more flour is because of the heat and humidity in Mumbai.
      The pink bar shows when you have more than one page if I remember correctly, if you go in Layout you should see the option for one.
      The color and fonts used can be modified in the Template > Customise > Advanced > Tabs Background.

      I think I did a little more tweaking to mine using some coding.This blog has tons of useful Blogger blogs customizing tutorials that are easy to follow : http://icanbuildablog.com/create-a-blogger-blog/#bloggertips

  2. Oh my goodness! These look absolutely incredible. Cinnamon always makes anything taste better. :]

    // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

    1. I totally agree with you, cinnamon does make anything taste better. I use it a lot in my cooking.

  3. The cookies look great!! You should seriously consider selling Swiss Style goodies specially around Christmas for people like me who won't ever get to taste it otherwise. :D

    1. There is definitely some prospect here :-) thoug baking those cookies is not that difficult, provided one has an oven that is. I use the convection mode in my microwave / convection oven to do the job.

    2. Anonymous11:46 AM

      there are women who sell homemade cakes and cookies in India and I have read that it is flourishing business.

      since u are a good cook with interestingly ideas, you can definitely try your hand it.


    3. Yes, I know a few ladies in my neighbourhood who run baking business from home, they are in high demand when it comes to birthday cakes. I am not that good at cake decorating that I can launch myself into it, but cookies, definitely something to look into. The amount of small business run from home by women is really on the rise in cities in India, which I think is a good thing since it offers the possibility of an income with the flexibility of working from home for women with children.

      I have friends that also suggested I should conduct craft classes for both kids and adults after seeing the work on my blog and in my home :-)

  4. Anonymous10:10 AM

    These cookies are fantastic. Cinnamon has medicinal properties and widely used to control blood sugar levels.

    BTW, talking of cookies, I want to set the record straight. I have been accused of suggesting that jeera should be added to milano cookies when I had suggested ajwain. I thought it is better that I should get it out of my chest LOL. My lord, I rest my case.


    1. Jeera & ajwain sound equally nasty in Milano cookies.
      The delicate zest of lemon is all that is necessary to complement the rich flavor of butter &in Milano cookies & would be typical of baked treats from southern Europe. You do realize that Milan is in Italy, which is in southern Europe, don't you?
      Indianization failed!
      I did Indianize a Mexican cookie on my blog with cardamom though-

    2. @ Apple, yes indeed, cinnamon is an excellent blood sugar regulator, it also has the added bonus of enhancing the natural sweetness of a dish which means that recipes asking for cinnamon usually have less sugar in them.

      @Bibi, this is definitely a European thing, and indeed more of a southern thing than a northern one. I noticed that the Northern part of Europe is far more likely to substitute flour with ground almonds or ground hazelnuts and do with no or less butter in cookies recipe. I have been wondering for years about the popularity of Milano cookies in Switzerland. They are definitely a classic Christmas treat in my homeland, but they are DEFINITELY Italian. The recipe might have traveled across the border from Italy into the Tessin State and spread through the Alps and the rest of the country. Tessin is after all an Italian speaking region of the country.


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