Cinnamon stars, a traditional German and Swiss recipe.
2 cups finely ground unblanched almonds, plus 1/2 cup more as needed
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 large egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
granulated sugar (for rolling out)
Grease and flour several baking sheets and set aside. Combine the 2 cups of almonds with the cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy and slightly thickened. Beat the powdered sugar into egg whites, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between each addition. When all the powdered sugar has been added, beat the mixture 5 more minutes. Remove approximately two thirds of the egg white mixture and blend it together with the almonds. Cover the remaining egg white mixture with a damp cloth. Add the lemon juice and zest to the almond mixture and use your hand to blend all the ingredients together to form a cohesive mass. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. To test the consistency, try rolling out a small piece on a board dusted with granulated sugar. If it is too sticky to handle, add more ground almonds, by the tablespoon, until it is manageable. If the dough crumbles or falls apart, add a few drops of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the reserved egg whites. When the dough has reached the proper consistency, dust a pastry board lightly with granulated sugar. Shape the dough into a flat round and dust the surface lightly with sugar. Pat the dough out into a rectangle 3/8 inch thick. Remove the cloth from the reserved egg whites. Use a metal spatula to smooth an even coating of the glaze over the entire surface of the rectangle, just enough to cover it completely with white. To smooth the surface further, dip the spatula in hot water and run it across the glaze. Make sure you have not used up all the egg whites, as you will need a small amount to glaze the scraps after they have been re-rolled after you make your first cuts. Cover the egg whites again with the damp towel to prevent them from drying out. Fill a cup with hot water. Cut using a star-shaped cookie cutter dipped into the hot water each time you cut, leaving as little space between stars as possible. Place the stars on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 3/4 inch between each. Knead the scraps together; adding additional ground almonds so that the dough can be rolled out. Roll out, glaze, and cut as before. Allow to dry at room temperature, on the baking sheets, overnight. Preheat the oven to 275F. Bake one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the stars are firm and the glaze has dried. Do not allow them to color. If they are browning, prop the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Remove the stars to a wire rack to cool completely before storing, at least 1 month, in airtight tins.
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