This year I was truly on a mission. Well – if you ask my husband I am on a mission every year when Christmas comes up and it´s time for Christmas cookies! This years mission was the perfect cinnamon star. It all started when I saw a baking tray for cinnamon stars in a shop window. My sister made excellent stars last year using one of those. In the past I made mine using a cookie cutter but working with this super sticky dough was always a mess. Having seen my sisters evenly formed and delicious stars I had to give it a go this year. Aiming for the perfect star I used homemade marzipan, freshly grounded almonds and also freshly grounded cinnamon bark which we bought at Ingo Holland`s spice shop a few weeks ago (“Altes Gewürzamt” Ingo Holland, In der Altstadt 7, 63911 Klingenberg am Main, www.altesgewuerzamt.de). And believe me cinnamon is not just cinnamon any more! The dough tasted great and it was hard to keep little Max away, who needed to taste again and again. But then this beautiful Saturday became a disaster…. Several attempts to get a beautiful snow white icing on my stars failed and after using egg whites from half a henhouse Max and I ended up with clumpy pieces of bakery – delicious but not what I was aiming for.
Never give up … a week later we met friends of ours in order to bake some Christmas cookies with the kids. After several Whats App conferences about how to bake cinnamon stars we decided to start a little competition – her cookie cutter recipe against my sisters baking tray recipe. Her turned out beautiful and soft with a perfect icing while mine looked – let´s call it “rustic”…. My heart was almost breaking and at this point I quit with the baking tray! After feeding myself, family, friends and work colleagues with both variations it became clear that the goal is to combine my intensive cinnamon and marzipan flavours with my friend’s perfect texture and icing.
The next Saturday came up – guess what I did? Yes! Baking cinnamon stars! Our little one could hardly believe his luck. I used my homemade marzipan, Ingo’s cinnamon bark and my sisters baking tray recipe. But converted it into a cookie cutter recipe by adding the icing mix step by step to the solid ingredients to create a dough that was firm enough to roll out and cut out stars. After decorating the stars with the icing I baked them at only 140° C fan heat for approx.10 minutes until they were just baked (next time I would go down to 120°C).
And this time I was finally happy. Peace at last …
Ingredients for the marzipan:
- 300 g blanched almonds
- 1 whole bitter almond (or bitter almond aroma)
- 65g creamy honey
- 75 g icing sugar
- 3 tbsp. rosewater
Preparation of the marzipan:
Mix all the ingredients together in a strong food processor, taste and maybe add some more rose water and bitter almond aroma. Wrap in cling wrap and store in the fridge (up to 3 weeks).
Recipe adapted from www.backenmachtgluecklich.de
Ingredients for the cinnamon stars:
- 320g icing sugar
- 3 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 125g marzipan
- 250g freshly grounded unpeeled almonds
- freshly grounded cinnamon bark (Cassia vera, Vietnam), sieved through a mesh. Be careful, it´s intense! https://www.altesgewuerzamt.de/Gewuerze/Einzelgewuerze/Zimtrinde-kleine-Stuecke-Cassia-vera.html
Preparation of the cinnamon stars:
- Preheat the oven to 120° – 140° C fan heat
- Combine almonds, marzipan and salt in a bowl, mix well
- Beat the egg whites and the icing sugar with a mixer until you get a glossy icing. Add cinnamon bark, mix well
- Add the icing mix step by step to the solid ingredients to create a dough that`s firm enough to roll out. Taste: Enough cinnamon?
- Keep the rest of the icing mix for decorating the stars later.
- Roll the dough out (not too thin!) between cling wrap and store in the freezer for approx.10 minutes.
- Cut out starts, put them on a tray covered with baking paper and spread icing mix evenly on top of the stars. If you dunk the cookie cutter in icing sugar the dough won´t stick to the cutter. Another trick is dunking the cutter into hot water.
- Bake the stars until they are just done (more rare then medium-rare) and the icing is just firm. (approx. 10 minutes depending on your oven).
- Let them cool down and store in an airtight container. Maybe add small pieces of apple to keep some moisture in the container.
- Keep away from cinnamon star addicted toddlers!