Zimtsterne: Quick Cookies | IJN

By Ronnie Fein

Ohen people starve themselves for an extended period of time, they usually feel very hungry and find themselves thinking about consuming huge amounts of food. But it’s not a good idea to pack it too quickly. It’s too hard on your digestive system.

Zimsterne (Ronnie Fein)

So when Yom Kippur comes to an end, I follow the age-old wisdom to transition from fasting to main meal by offering my guests a light snack as they enter my home after synagogue.

I serve apple slices and honey, hummus and pita wedges and, for those who prefer something sweet, Zimtsterne cookies.

Zimtsterne translates to “cinnamon stars” and is actually a German Christmas specialty. But they are also traditional for Yom Kippur, when they are known as “erste Sternen”, or “first stars”, as they are a reminder that before you can break the fast, you must be able to see the first evening stars. that appear in the sky after sunset.

Zimsterne are basically warmly spiced walnut meringues, with a meringue glaze. They are irresistibly crispy at first bite, then slightly chewy; the cinnamon-clove scent is bewitching. Bonus: they are gluten-free.

You can make these cookies up to a week ahead. Keep them tightly closed to keep them crispy. If you’ve never tasted Zimtsterne, consider adding them to your holiday menu. They also make a delicious gift to bring along if you’re invited to a Break-the-Fast.


Servings 15 big cookies
  • 2 1/2
    finely ground almonds, approximately (or ground almonds, see note)
  • 1
    ground cinnamon
  • 1/8
    ground clove
  • 1/2
  • 1
    grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2
    large egg whites
  • 1
    lemon juice
  • 1 1/2
    icing sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Place the almonds, cinnamon, cloves, salt and lemon zest in a bowl, whisk to combine the ingredients and set aside.

  3. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer, starting on low speed, then increasing the speed to medium-high, for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly. Pour in the lemon juice and beat over medium-high heat for another 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar and beat on high speed 4-5 minutes or until stiff and glossy.

  4. Pour about 1/3 of this mixture into a bowl and set aside.

  5. Add the almond mixture to the remaining mixture (2/3) and stir to mix the ingredients well. Film the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour.

  6. Remove the dough. If it’s still soft and sticky, add a few more ground almonds. Sprinkle a pastry board with a little caster sugar. Place the dough on the board and cover the dough with parchment paper or waxed paper. Roll or press marzipan to 1/4 inch thickness.

  7. Cut the dough with star-shaped cookie cutters. Place the cookies on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Spread the remaining 1/3 of the egg white mixture on top of the dough. (You can use a small spoon or a pastry brush.) Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Note: If using prepackaged almond “flour,” start with two cups; add more as needed to create a dough that is not too sticky.

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