What possibly could be more exciting than arriving home to mysterious parcel, opening it and finding 12 of the most delicious biscuits inside, made especially for you?!
After a great deal of deliberation I decided to make these. Zimtsterne are of my favourite Christmas biscuits and I hoped would be sturdy enough to withstand the journey in one piece. In my eyes they are a perfectly balance or everything good in a cookie, not too hard or too soft, deliciously chewy with a perfect amount of crunch from the icing.
The only bad thing? I only made 36 biscuits and I had to send 36 to my fellow bloggers! No zimtsterne left for me!! Oh well, next time…
Plus what I received in return was definitely work it; matcha, cranberry and white chocolate Christmas tree cookies from Becca, mint chocolate snowball cookies from Marsha and chocolate almond smiles from Laura- all of which were delicious and wolfed down rather fast by a very happy family of mine.
The biscuits themselves are simple to make, especially if you have an electric whisk. To start the egg whites are whisked until they have reached the stiff peak stage, then the sugar is slowly added creating a meringue and finally the almonds are folded in to give you your biscuit dough. As the dough is quite sticky from the meringue leaving it to cool and harden slightly before rolling it out between two sheets of baking paper makes it much easier to handle.
The difficulty and speed of the icing is up to you. After trying a few methods I found that the neatest approach was to make a fairly runny icing, pipe the edges on and then fill in the middle- the icing slowly settles filling in any gaps forming a smooth surface. The other option is to make the icing a little thicker and spread it on the biscuits with a knife but I found you either loose the star shape or end up with a rather lumpy bumpy top.
Once iced they are cooked in a relatively cool oven, compared to other biscuits, as you want to set the meringue and icing without the shinny white tops going brown. The biscuit will harden a little when removed from the oven but make sure the icing is set before deciding they are done as a wet icing will soften the biscuits quite quickly.
Now, anyone up for an Easter cookie swap?!
Makes 30 5cm stars
Adapted from Edd Kimber and BBC Good Food
For the biscuit dough
2 egg whites
1tsp lemon juice
200g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
320g ground almonds
1tbsp ground cinnamon
1.5tsp ground ginger
- Whisk the egg whites in a bowl (glass or metal, not plastic) until frothy, add the lemon juice and continue whisking until they hold stiff peaks (you should be able to turn the bowl upside-down without the egg whites moving). Gradually, a spoonful at a time, add the icing sugar, whisking all the time, until you have stiff glossy peaks
- Beat in the zest, almonds, cinnamon and ginger and bring the mixture together to form a dough. Wrap this in cling film and place in the fridge whilst you make the icing.
For the icing
1 egg white
120g icing sugar
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until frothy. Gradually, a spoonful at a time, add the icing sugar, whisking all the time to form a smooth icing. You want the mixture to be fairly runny to ensure smooth tops to your biscuits; if you lift your whisk up you want the stream of icing to settle down to a flat surface in 5-10secs. If it is too stiff add a drop or two of water
- Spoon this into a piping bag with a 2-3mm nozzle/ opening.
- Line two large baking trays with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 130°C fan
- Roll the biscuit dough out between two sheets of greaseproof paper (stops it sticking to the table) to 3mm thick
- Cut out stars and place on the baking trays (they shouldn’t spread much so you only need leave about an inch between each)
- Ice the borders of each star first before ‘flooding’ the centres with icing (if you have gaps use the tip of a knife to push the icing around)
- Bake in the oven for 15mins until the biscuits have just set and before the icing browns
- Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container. They should keep for a week or two.