Melt-in-the-mouth stars with cinnamon and candied fruit, hidden under a fine, cracking icing!
Here’s a sunny version of the traditional “zimtsterne” that should delight fans of marzipan, meringue and candied orange and lemon peel (I have all that at home, so here it’s more like falling stars!).
They require a little patience and precious ingredients, so it’s a real Christmas joy to take the time to prepare and savour these tiny delicacies.
With no added fat or dairy products, these pretty stars keep well in a tin and can be prepared ahead of time. This recipe is also flour-free and therefore gluten-free, which will make even more people happy 🙂
The chopped candied orange and lemon peels give a slightly richer texture than the traditional recipe, and the citrus flavours are particularly delicious when combined with the cinnamon! Their slight touch of bitterness also offsets the very sweet side of these confections (and slyly makes you want to have another!). You can find the recipe for candied orange and lemon peel here. If you’re short of time, you can replace them with 25g of sugar and the zest of one orange and one lemon. The result will be slightly different, but very tasty all the same!
To obtain the crispy icing reminiscent of calissons, this recipe doesn’t use baked meringue as in the traditional version, but a royal icing applied after baking and air-dried like that used for gingerbread. It’s quite simple to make and I find the result easier to control. I usually make my icing sugar by blending light cane sugar for a long time. It tastes delicious but is slightly less white than icing sugar made from beet sugar. For the icing on this batch of stars, I mixed half of the light icing sugar with half of the organic beetroot icing sugar.
These little stars are delicious with a nice cup of Christmas tea or coffee and are perfect to give away in a pretty bag with other goodies!
Iced stars with almonds and candied fruit recipe (inspired by zimstserne)
- 2 baking trays 40 x 30 cm
- 1 star cookie cutter, 4 cm wide
- sheets of baking paper
- 1 pastry roller
- 1 pastry bag fitted with a n°2 tip (optional)
For the meringue almond paste
- 400 g raw almond powder (unhulled)
- 225 g icing sugar
- 50 g d'écorces d'orange et de citron confites
- 3 egg whites - (from medium-sized eggs)
- 3 tsp cinnamon powder
For the royal icing
- 1 egg white
- 175 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice - (optionnal)
- Whisk the egg whites until frothy, then add 1/3 of the sifted icing sugar and continue to whisk until they are stiff and form bird's beaks. Add 1/3 of the sifted icing sugar, whisk for a further 1 minute, then using a flexible spatula, gently fold in the remaining sifted icing sugar.
- Finely chop or mix the candied lemon and orange peel.Note: make sure you don't leave any large pieces that would interfere with the cutting of the stars.
- Gently fold in the almond powder, cinnamon and chopped peel with a spatula, lifting the mixture until smooth.Note: the dough should be sticky but still form a ball. If not, you can add a little almond powder.
- Place the pastry on a baking sheet such as a silpat or on baking paper and cover with a second baking sheet. Using a pastry roller, roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 1 cm. Place the pastry between the two sheets in the fridge for 12h00.
- The next day, remove the foil covering the pastry and cut out the stars using the cookie cutter. Place them as you go along on a baking tray lined with baking paper.Note: to make this step easier, you can run the cookie cutter under a trickle of water as soon as it starts to stick.Repeat the operation until you have used up all the dough, forming a ball from the scraps and rolling out again.Note: If the dough is too sticky at this stage, sprinkle with a little icing sugar and almond powder.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C fan oven.Place the stars in the oven and bake for around 10 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.Note: the stars should be slightly golden but very soft, they will harden as they cool.
- Prepare the icing by lightly beating the egg white with a fork until frothy. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar, whisking vigorously until you reach the desired consistency: if the icing is too liquid, continue adding icing sugar; if it is too compact, adjust the consistency with a few drops of lemon juice. The icing is the right consistency when it is smooth and thick and forms a ribbon as it falls.
- Using a small spoon or a piping bag fitted with a fine tip, carefully pipe the icing onto the top of each star.
- Leave the stars to dry on the grill in the open air for at least 1 hour.Once the icing has dried, these stars can be stored for several weeks in an airtight tin.
I hope you like this recipe and that you enjoy preparing and savouring these little stars. I wish you joyful preparations!