Traditional German Christmas Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Star Cookies)

Crunchy, gluten-free, traditional German Cinnamon Star cookies (Zimtsterne) help the holiday season seem even more festive!

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Cookies, Cinnamon Stars (German Zimtsterne)
Traditional German Zimtsterne cookies for Christmas. Family recipe given to me by Bärbel Dittmann.
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Meringue
Cookies:
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Meringue
Cookies:
Instructions
Meringue:
  1. Sift powdered sugar. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg whites until foamy. Continue beating and add sifted powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until sugar is completely incorporated. Continue beating for about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes very stiff. Consistency will be somewhat like marshmallow fluff.
  3. Beat in vanilla extract.
  4. Set aside ½ cup of the meringue to use for icing later. Cover it to prevent it from drying out.
Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F (120 C).
  2. Set aside ½ cup of the ground nuts or nut flour.
  3. Mix almond extract, cinnamon, lemon juice, optional cardamom, and the remaining 3 ½ cups of the ground nuts or nut flour into the egg white mixture with a wooden spoon or your hands. Consistency should be like a moist cookie dough. If it’s too sticky, add more ground nuts or nut flour, a teaspoon at a time, until proper consistency is reached.
  4. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest in refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Line your work surface with a sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Sprinkle the reserved ½ cup of ground nuts or nut flour on the parchment.
  7. Place the rested dough on top of the nuts. Place a sheet of waxed paper over the dough. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on top of the waxed paper to ¼ inch thick (½ cm). Remove waxed paper.
  8. Cut out cookies with a star-shaped cutter, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie.
  9. Remove dough between cookies, leaving cutouts on the parchment paper.
  10. Carefully transfer the parchment paper with the cutouts to a baking sheet. The cookies will be very soft, so leaving them on the parchment is an easy way to keep them from becoming deformed while transferring them to the baking sheet.
  11. Re-roll dough as many times as necessary to use it all for cookies. Because there is no flour, the dough will maintain its consistency.
  12. Using a pastry brush or a clean artist paintbrush, ice each cookie with reserved meringue.
  13. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Meringue will be set, and cookie edges will be just turning a light gold.
  14. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
Recipe Notes

Using a stand mixer is helpful because of the lengthy beating time.

Cookies are super crunchy!

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Egg Nog

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Homemade Christmas egg nog - delicious spiked or plain!

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Egg Nog
SO much better than store-bought!
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine eggs, sugar, milk and salt in the top of a double boiler with simmering water.
  2. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the spoon.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in the cream, vanilla and nutmeg.
  4. Chill overnight and serve cold. Garnish each cup with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Spike with brandy or whiskey, if desired.
Recipe Notes

If you overcook the egg nog and it isn't completely smooth, just use a stick blender to smooth it out. It won't affect the taste.

It's important to chill the egg nog for several hours before serving it. The flavors really come together and taste like the real deal. It's good right off the stove, but so much better after a few hours in the fridge.

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Flan, Crème Caramel, Crema Caramella or Crème Renversée Recipe

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Whether you call it flan, crème caramel, crema caramella or crème renversée, this creamy, custard dessert is a treat for family and guests.

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Flan Flan, Crème Caramel, Crema Caramella or Crème Renversée Recipe
Course Dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium pan, bring sugar, water, corn syrup and lemon juice to a simmer, without stirring, over medium-high heat. Wipe any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush because they can cause the syrup to be grainy. Continue to cook until the syrup turns from clear to golden, swirling the pan continuously for even browning until large, slow bubbles on the surface turn honey-caramel in color.
  2. Remove the pan immediately from the heat, and working quickly (and carefully - it's very hot!), pour a portion of the caramel into each of 8 ungreased 6-ounce ramekins. Allow the caramel to cool and harden, about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (make sure rack is in the middle).
  4. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steam appears - usually 6-8 minutes- remove from heat.
  5. Meanwhile, gently whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a large bowl until just combined.
  6. Off the heat, gently whisk the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture, adding vanilla and salt.
  7. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh cloth into a large measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout. Set aside.
  8. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish or roasting pan and divide and pour the custard mixture evenly into them.
  9. Fill the pan with about two cups of boiling water so that it reaches about half way up the sides of the ramekins. At this point you can cover the pans loosely with aluminum foil, allowing the steam to escape.
  10. Bake until a paring knife inserted halfway between the center and edge of the custards comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
  12. To unmold, slide a paring knife around the perimeter of each ramekin. Holding a serving plate over the top of the ramekin, invert and set on the work surface. Gently shake the ramekin to release the custard.
Recipe Notes

The room-temp, finished, baked flan can be chilled in the fridge (loosely covered with plastic wrap) for up to 2 days.

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Italian Rainbow Cookies Recipe

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Traditional Italian rainbow cookies; my New Jersey/Italian friends make these every year and this is their recipe. LOVE these almond-flavored goodies - so addictive. In addition to the wonderful flavor, they look marvelous, and you can make them any color combination you choose.

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Cookies, Italian Rainbow, Recipe
These instructions are for traditionally-colored Italian rainbow cookies. The photos are of my green ombré type. You can choose whatever colors you like for the layers; see the Recipe Notes at the bottom.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line three 9×13 cake or sheet pans with wax paper or parchment paper and grease with butter or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Break up almond paste in a large bowl, add butter, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in flour and salt. Set aside.
  4. In separate bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into almond mixture.
  5. Separate batter into equal parts (about 1 1/2 cups each) in three different bowls. Add green color to one bowl and mix well. Add red color to another bowl and mix well. Leave third bowl plain.
  6. Spread batter into separate pans.
  7. Bake each pan for 8 minutes then turn and bake 7 minutes more, for a total of 15 minutes. Place pans on racks until completely cool.
  8. Invert green layer onto a large tray. Spread with half the raspberry preserves.
  9. Invert the plain layer on top and spread with other half of preserves. Invert red layer on top.
  10. Wrap in plastic wrap, place a heavy book or pan on top and refrigerate overnight.
  11. Combine chocolate chips, 4 tablespoons butter and light corn syrup over low heat and stir until melted.
  12. Cover the top of the cake with chocolate glaze and refrigerate until glaze sets. Turn over and cover the other side with glaze and let cool until that side sets.
  13. With serrated knife, trim edges of layers so they are squared.
  14. Cut the cake crosswise into eight sections about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then cut it lengthwise into twelve 3/4-inch sections to make about 96 small, layered cookies.
Recipe Notes

Make the cookies ombré by adding 5 drops of any color to one third of the batter, 10 drops of the same color to another third of the batter, and 15 drops to the final third. Eyeball it to see if you like the color gradation; remember that it's easy to add color, impossible to subtract it. Combine with darkest layer on plate, lighter layer in the middle and plain layer on top. Use seedless jam or preserves that match the color you choose or use a neutral-colored jam like apricot so the lines aren't distinct.

 

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Sablés de Paris (French Butter Cookies) Recipe

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Light, delicate French butter cookies. Very easy to make and quick to bake. They almost melt in your mouth. Perfect for tea and coffee or holiday cookie plates.

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Cookies, Sablés de Paris (French Butter Cookies) Recipe
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine French
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8-10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
dozen cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine French
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8-10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
dozen cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together sugar, salt and flour.
  3. Mix in butter and rub butter with fingers into flour until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Stir in the egg yolk(s) and vanilla.
  5. Form dough into two logs about 2 inches in diameter. If dough does not come together, add water one tablespoon at a time until it just forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
  6. Cut the logs into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Optionally, stamp each slice with a cookie stamp.
  7. Place slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until very lightly browned around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove to wire rack and cool completely.
Recipe Notes

Roll the logs in sugar before slicing to get a crispy, sweet outer rim.

There are many variations of this recipe, including blue cheese and ginger/cardamom flavors. Check my blog post to see how to do them.

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Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins Recipe

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Light and sweet with the tang of lemon, these muffins make a great breakfast, brunch or dessert treat. Use Greek yogurt or buttermilk to enhance the flavor. No need to frost.

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Muffins, Lemon-Poppy Seed, Recipe
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Passive Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Passive Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175 C). Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or use paper cupcake cups.
  2. Add lemon zest to sugar and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. Set aside about 1 tablespoon (9-19 g) of this mixture for later.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, including poppy seeds.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating two times with the yogurt or buttermilk, then lemon juice, and then vanilla. Beat just until smooth.
  7. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into the muffin batter until blended.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, 3/4-full. Sprinkle the top with reserved sugar and lemon zest.
  9. Bake at 350°F (175 C) for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Recipe Notes

There is no need to frost these muffins.

This recipe can also be baked in a large pan as a cake.

If you don’t have baking soda, which can be hard to find in Europe, just use more baking powder

Greek yogurt has the best flavor for this recipe.

If you don’t have vanilla extract, use a packet of vanilla sugar instead.

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Vanilla-Lemon Cake Recipe in a Lamb Mold for Easter

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Light, sweet lemon-vanilla cake for Easter or spring celebrations, baked up in a lamb-shaped mold for the occasion. Smaller portion of batter to fit lamb mold.

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Cake, Vanilla-Lemon in a Lamb Mold for Easter Recipe
Traditional European Easter delicacy baked in a lamb mold.
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
small cake
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
small cake
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Generously coat cake mold with butter or oil and dust with flour.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together with hand mixer. Mix in eggs, vanilla, milk, zest and lemon juice.
  4. Combine flour and baking powder in separate bowl; mix well.
  5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat thoroughly.
  6. Pour batter into mold, filling nooks and crannies. Bump filled mold on countertop to dislodge any air bubbles.
  7. Bake 40 minutes.
  8. Let cake cool in mold on rack for 30 minutes.
  9. Shake mold firmly then carefully remove one half of mold from top of cake. Loosen edges of cake left in other half of mold with a knife. Carefully remove cake from other half of mold. Let cool completely.
  10. Dust cake with powdered sugar just before serving. Serve for Easter breakfast or brunch.
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