Cinnamon Stars: Revisited

Updated: Jan 9



In early December, a very good friend of mine was visiting us and we made Christmas Butterballs to celebrate. True to form, I didn't double-check my pantry first and it turned out that we were missing the necessary walnuts. I gave my friend the choice between almonds and hazelnuts to replace the walnuts. Her response was unequivocal. Hazelnuts! They are her favourite, and although ubiquitous here, since moving to the US, they are less common and harder to find.


We made the Butterballs with the hazelnuts, and all enjoyed them greatly, but this got me thinking. A lot of our Christmas Cookies require almonds, but how much difference do these make to the actual taste and substance of the cookies. I enjoyed the hazelnut butterballs but missed the originals, whereas Hubby and my friend both liked them better, so clearly it does make a difference, but how much?


So I decided to try the Cinnamon Stars, which have ground almonds as their base, using hazelnuts substituted in for the almonds. And then as I thought about it further, hazelnut and cacao seemed like such a natural pairing that I decided to try some chocolatey ones and some regular ones, each variety with and without icing.


Ingredients:

For the plain ones:

3 egg whites

a pinch of salt

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

3 c ground hazelnuts

2 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp kirsch


For the chocolate ones:

3 egg whites

a pinch of salt

1 c powdered sugar

1/2 c cacao

3 c ground hazelnuts

2 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp kirsch


2 tbsp sugar for rolling


1) Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt to form stiff peaks. Fold in the powdered sugar and set aside 2 tbsp for the icing. If using, fold in cacao at this point.


2) Mix in the nuts, cinnamon and kirsch to form a stiff dough. Roll out 1 cm thick on a sugared surface and cut out shapes.


3) Lay out on a cookie sheet (preferably greased or with a silicone sheet) and ice with a little dollop of the icing.


4) Allow to rest for 5 hours or overnight. Bake at 250°C for 5 minutes.



So the consensus was that these were good, and the hazelnuts worked well for this, including with the cinnamon, but... All the cookie cutters are at my house and we are at my parents' so these are all round, despite the name. Small wine glasses are perfect for this. I do recommend a silicone sheet because the plain batch I allowed to cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, and they were cemented to the tray. Also, I believe that this oven runs a little hot. Pulled out at time, and the second batch at 4 minutes, both batches were a little darker than would have been ideal. Next time, I would do them at 240°C for 4 minutes like the Basler cookies. I also rolled mine out too thin which compounded the problem, so I do recommend making sure they are thick enough.


Further, the chocolate ones were too chocolatey and the cinnamon paled into insignificance behind it. the chocolatey ones worked better with the icing as the extra sugar balanced out the flavour of the cookie while the plain ones were better uniced and definitely did not need extra sugar. I would like to try these with only 2 tbsp or 1/4 c cacao instead of a full third of the sugar content - make them hazelnut and cinnamon biscuits with cacao and not chocolate biscuits with a bit of cinnamon and some hazelnuts for texture.

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