Gluten-free traditional German holiday cookies with powdered sugar, almonds, cinnamon and meringue. Soft, chewy and delicious.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Level: Intermediate
- Makes: About 24 cookies
- 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling
- 15 ounces sliced almonds, with skin (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Sift the confectioners’ sugar. (If you don’t have a sifter, just whisk the powdered sugar well.)
Put 1/2 cup of the sifted confectioners’ sugar, 10 ounces (3 heaping cups) of the almonds and all the cinnamon in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground, with just a few larger pieces.
Whip the egg whites in a large, clean bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until they hold soft peaks, about 1 minute. Gradually add the remaining confectioners’ sugar while whipping, until the whites are thick, creamy and somewhat stiff, about 2 minutes more (see Notes below). Set aside 2/3 cup of this meringue for topping the cookies.
Fold the ground almond mixture and the lemon zest into the remaining meringue to make a stiff dough.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Lay a sheet of parchment or waxed paper on the work surface and lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar. Turn the dough out onto the dusted paper, flatten and dust with more sugar as needed, and then lay another sheet of parchment or waxed paper on top. Roll the dough between the papers until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Flip the dough over and gently peel off a sheet of the paper. For ease when cutting, lay the paper back on the dough, flip again and gently pull off the other side of the paper so that the dough is fully released from it.
Cut cookies with a 3-inch star cutter and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Excess dough can be rerolled.) Use a small spoon, brush or offset spatula to spread the reserved meringue over the top of each cookie, taking care not to let the meringue drip over the sides. Press or sprinkle remaining sliced almonds in a decorative pattern into the meringue.
Bake cookies until bottoms are light golden brown and meringue is set and crisp, about 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door to release heat and dry cookies out in the oven for 10 more minutes.
Busy baker’s tips: The dough can be frozen between the sheets of paper for up to 2 weeks. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
It’s worth it to have extra almonds on hand because we ended up adding almost an entire cup more ground almonds than called for, due to our dough being too wet after incorporating the almond/sugar mixture with the divided meringue. If you do have to add more, just grind up a little at a time and add till the dough becomes pretty darn hard to stir.
There is a pretty good video coinciding with this recipe on Food Network. Follow the link above (under our title for the recipe, just above the ingredients list) and you’ll see a link there for the video. The only thing is the video says to whip the eggs whites to soft peaks, add sugar, whip more for two minutes, but you actually may need to whip them longer to form those stiff peaks. Ours took about 5-8 minutes at about speed 6 on a Kitchen Aid mixer.
Keep in mind also that some of the measurements in the video are not correct. Follow the ingredient amounts and directions as laid down in the written recipe above. The video is still good for getting a visual of the techniques used.
Before I turned off the oven to “dry out” the cookies with the door open for 10 minutes, the meringue was nice and smooth. After the drying time, most of them had cracked meringue. I might not do the drying out part next time. They did, after all, stay pretty chewy and almost a little moist anyway.
These don’t puff up a whole lot in the oven. Two inches apart on the cookie sheet isn’t really necessary. One would be fine.
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