Written by: Kelly Leonardini



Time to read 2 min

Zimsterne are spiced star-shaped cookies typically prepared during the holidays in Germany, Austria, and Italy’s Alto-Adige region. Finely ground almond meal is combined with whipped egg whites, sugar, and spices. The dough is cut into festive stars and each cookie is decorated with an egg white icing and baked just until the icing has hardened on top.

This recipe was submitted in our December 2020 Recipe Contest. Find out how to participate in our next contest here.

Zimsterne Cookies




Whites of two eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice + zest of one lemon
1¾ cup powdered sugar
2 cups almonds or almond meal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves


Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

If using whole almonds, pulse in a food processor, until they turn into a coarse meal.

Add lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon) and powdered sugar to the egg whites. Whisk together, until smooth and there are no longer clumps from the sugar. It should be quite dense, similar to soft marshmallow fluff.

Remove 1/3 cup of the egg white mixture and set it aside for the icing.

Whisk together lemon zest, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves with the almond meal. Fold in the egg white mixture, a little at a time, just until the almonds start to stick together. You may not use all of the egg whites.

Lay down a sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface. Sprinkle the sheet with a little bit of powdered sugar. Place the dough on the parchment sheet and sprinkle more powdered sugar on top of the dough (the sugar will keep it from sticking to the parchment). Add another piece of parchment paper on top.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between the two sheets of parchment paper, about ¼-inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment.

Preheat oven to 300°F (if you have a convection oven, you’ll want to do 275°F).

Next, cut out the cookies into star shapes and cover them with the remaining egg white icing. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Cover the entire sheet of dough with the egg white icing, using a spatula to smooth it out across the entire surface. Place the cookie dough in the fridge for at least one hour. Remove and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out stars. This method results in more perfect icing coverage of each star. It takes more time, but it’s slightly less tedious work.
  2. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out each cookie. Remove any excess dough and spoon some of the egg white icing on top of each star to coat the entire top.

You can roll out the excess dough to make another batch, following the same technique above.

Place the icing covered cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes, just until the icing on top has hardened.

Place on a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before eating. Store in a tin or airtight container.

Kelly Leonardini

Kelly Leonardini tells the stories of food & wine from terroir to table through words, photos, and recipe videos. She is most inspired by the regional cuisine and culinary traditions of Italy. She has a special connection to Italy through her ancestry and frequent travels. Her work can be found at kellyleonardini.com .