Cinnamon Stars

It’s time for my first Christmas cookie post of the season!  I’m having a few friends over for dinner next weekend, and I can’t wait to serve up some Christmas goodies.  Today’s recipe – Cinnamon Stars from Robin on – is a special project because one of my friends doesn’t eat wheat or dairy.  She would never ask anyone to plan around her dietary restrictions, but I enjoy the challenge of coming up with something tasty that *everyone* at the party can enjoy.  I made these Cinnamon Stars last night and then brought some to her over lunch today…  They most certainly passed the test.  (And she asked for the recipe!)

First, I processed approximately 2 2/3 cups of raw almonds in the food processor until they were finely ground.  (I was able to get a finer grind by processing them in small batches, about 1 – 2 handfuls at a time.)  I say “approximately” because I didn’t actually measure the whole almonds; I just kept processing handfuls until I had 2 2/3 cups of *ground* almonds.

Once I had the almonds ground, I placed them in a medium bowl and whisked in 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest.

In the bowl of my electric mixer, I beat 1/3 cup of egg whites and 1/8 teaspoon of salt until soft peaks formed.  With the mixer running, I gradually added 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture was stiff.  (It probably took 3 – 4 minutes on high speed to achieve the consistency I wanted.)  I set aside 1/3 cup of the egg white mixture for the glaze and then folded my almond mixture into the rest of the egg white mixture.

I lined 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Working with about 1/3 of the dough at a time, I rolled it out to 1/4-inch thickness between two sheets of parchment paper.  (I dusted the bottom one with powdered sugar to help prevent sticking.)  Using a 2 1/2-inch star cookie cutter, I cut the cookies, re-rolled the scraps, and kept cutting until I had a dozen cookies on each baking sheet.

To make the glaze, I added 1 3/4 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to the reserved egg white mixture and stirred until the mixture was smooth.  (My glaze dried out just a bit as time passed, so I ended up adding another 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon after a few minutes.)  I used a pastry brush to lightly coat the cookies with the glaze.  Glazing took a few minutes, so I actually put the first batch in once it was glazed and then moved on to glazing the other cookies.

The recipe said to bake the cookies at 325F for 20 – 25 minutes…  No way.  I took my first batch out after 12 minutes and the bottoms were really misshapen.  It was like the centers exploded and oozed out or something.  I got perfect results – a light-brown, soft, yet completely-cooked-through cookie – with only 8 minutes in the oven.  I let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then cooled them completely on cooling racks.

Cinnamon Stars

I’ll admit the wheat and dairy eater in me prefers a nice butter-and-flour-laden traditional sugar cookie, but these are pretty tasty.  They have a really nice texture…  They’re not “bendable soft,” but they’re not crispy either.  I think “tender” is the right word.  The lemon and cinnamon flavors really sing.  I also *loved* that they held their shape beautifully.  No butter = no spreading.

My friend really seemed to enjoy them, so I’m going to put them on my “best bets” list for anyone looking for a good gluten-free and dairy-free Christmas treat.  They’ll be on my table again next weekend!

TIPS: I used packaged, pasteurized egg whites for this recipe because it’s a heck of a lot easier to pour 1/3 cup of egg whites out of a carton than it is to measure fresh egg whites.  Just make sure whatever you buy is 100% egg whites.  (Ham and cheese Egg Beaters won’t cut it!)

Recipe link: Cinnamon Stars

2 Responses to “Cinnamon Stars”

  1. 1 Leslie December 9, 2008 at 6:35 am

    I was distraught on Saturday when I realized I’d left my cinnamon stars at work, but happy to report that, unlike so many other gluten-free baked goods, they held up very well over the weekend!

    Thank you, thank you! 🙂

  1. 1 Disastrous Baking « distillation Trackback on December 1, 2009 at 9:32 am

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