Next week, Jews will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which falls 10 days after Rosh Hashanah on October 12. They will fast from food and water, allowing them time to reflect and pray. However, when they are done with their fast, typically they want to eat something! Traditionally, families serve zimtsterne cookies, or cinnamon stars, to those ending their fast. These star shaped cookies remind Jews that they cannot break the Yom Kippur fast until they see the first stars in the sky after sundown.
2-1/2 cups finely ground almonds, approximately (or almond meal, see below)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated fresh lemon peel
2 large egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Place the almonds, cinnamon, cloves, salt and lemon peel in a bowl, whisk to blend the ingredients and set aside.
Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer starting at low, then increasing the speed to medium-high, for 1-2 minutes or until bubbly. Pour in the lemon juice and beat at medium-high for another 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat at high speed for 4-5 minutes or until stiff and glossy.
Remove about 1/3 of this mixture to a bowl and set aside.
Add the almond mixture to the remaining (2/3) mixture and stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Remove the dough. If it is still soft and sticky, work in some additional ground almonds. Sprinkle a pastry board with some granulated sugar. Place the dough on the board and top the dough with some parchment paper or waxed paper. Roll or press the almond dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.
Cut the dough with star-shape cookie cutters. Place the cookies on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Spread the remaining 1/3 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 you use pre-packaged almond “meal” start with two cups; add more as needed to create dough that isn’t overly sticky.
Makes about 15 large cookies.