During the Holidays, especially Christmas with its cookie food culture, gluten-free can be especially challenging. Of course, there are many traditional cookie recipes that use non-wheat flours.
One of them is Cinnamon Stars, a German treat using egg white and nut flours. (There are versions of this recipe that use wheat flour, although, I believe that is a modern adaptation.)
I have to admit, to me, traditional German Christmas cookies were pfeffernusse and almond crescents and, of course, gingerbread. I’m not even sure I’ve had Cinnamon Stars when I found a gluten-free version on the German Embassy’s website’s Advent Calendar (Day 10).
Cooking with egg white is always challenging, but I wanted to try this one anyway. The result—well, in the language of Washington, it was a Success!!!
European recipes are notorious in the United States for their lack of specificity, often doing little more than listing ingredients, where U.S. recipes read, “Open fridge, remove box of butter from fridge. Close door. Open box, remove one stick of butter. Close box. Unwrap stick of butter from wax paper.”
When I tried this one and it didn’t seem quite right, I went to that grand Oracle of all knowledge—the Internet and further enlightened myself. I believe where I went wrong with this recipe is I used “1 cup egg white” unbeaten, which I then beat to about 4 cups of stiff peaks egg white. I haven’t had time to try this recipe again, but I’m guessing that instead of using 8-10 egg whites, one should use about 2-3 egg whites, beat them to stiff peaks, measure out one cup of these “stiff peaks egg whites” and then go from there, first beating in the granulated sugar, then folding in almond flour and powdered sugar. I think this is where the extra meringue comes from that is sometimes used as an icing.
When I realized that I had likely used far too much egg white, I mixed in extra almond flour and sugar. What I got was something more like Seafoam/Divinity Fudge. Not much too look at, but a good snack. I do plan to try this recipe again when I can pick up some more almond flour and powdered sugar.
And if you are wondering what to do with the left over egg yolk, here is a gluten-free recipe for Spaetzle that I also have not yet had a chance to try. (Poorandglutenfree.blogspot.com, April 2, 2012)
Cinnamon Stars “Zimtsterne”
These small, star-shaped cookies belong to any well-rounded plate of holiday cookies. This variation calls for any easy lemon glaze, rather than the harder-to-master meringue icing, so that little hands can join in the baking fun.
1 cup of egg white (Note: suggest trying beating 2-3 egg whites to stiff peaks and measuring 1 cup of beaten egg, reserve remainder, if any, for topping)
1 3/8 cups of sugar
A pinch of salt
3 ¼ cups of finely ground almonds
2 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
A few drops of lemon juice
Beat the egg white, sugar and salt until very stiff. Fold in the almonds, cinnamon and the confectioners’ sugar. Roll out dough until it’s about half an inch thick.
For the icing, stir confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until it’s a thick paste, then spread a thin layer on the dough. Cut out stars using a star-shaped cookie cutter. Bake at 320° Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of Chocolaterie Amelie in Garmisch-Partenkirchen