Just before Christmas last year a friend from work brought in a variety of lovely Christmas biscuits – she had spent the weekend baking with her mum and sisters in what is an annual event for their family and we were lucky enough to receive a few spares. Being the good colleague I am I set about to taste test all the varieties but kept coming back to the beautiful sweet (and boozy!) cinnamon biscuits which I came to learn are called “etoiles à la cannelle” (which translates as stars of cinnamon or cinnamon stars).
These biscuits look like the ones you see in a Christmas market and can never quite reproduce at home…until now!
These biscuits taste like Christmas – a combination of the beautifully sweet cinnamon with the chewy almond and a hit of kirsch icing is heavenly. Having devoured a couple of these I knew I had to have the recipe. My lovely friend kindly translated the recipe (from French) which has been in her family for many years so that I could enjoy these time and time again and share with my own family and friends. Having only made these once last year hubby and I have vowed to make these a Christmas custom in our house. After a bit of research I’ve found that the recipe is very similar to the German Zimtsterne which are traditionally made (and eaten!) during advent. I really like the idea of making a bit batch of these before Christmas a gifting them to friends in beautiful glass jars with a handwritten label…
- 3 egg whites
- 200g caster sugar (or a little less if you would like your biscuits to be less sweet)
- 300g ground almonds
- 1 tbsp cinnamon (I’ve also seen recipes that call for ginger or mixed spice)
- 150g icing sugar
- Festive liqueur of choice (or water if you want these to be family friendly)
- Preheat the oven to 150C | 300F | gas mark 2.
- Place the egg whites into a bowl (or free standing mixer) and beat until you have fluffy white peaks (think meringue mix).
- Mix together the caster sugar, ground almonds and cinnamon.
- Fold in the dry ingredients to the egg whites, one spoonful at a time.
- Dust some icing sugar onto a clean surface and roll out your biscuit mix with a rolling pin to about 0.75cm thick.
- Cut out your stars and transfer to a lined baking tray.
- Place into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. The stars don’t seem to brown in the oven – if the tips of the stars start to go a golden brown then your biscuits will be more crisp. They definitely firm up as they cool so don’t be worried if they seem soft when you taken them out.
- Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
- Meanwhile make the icing with the icing sugar and your choice of festive liqueur (we chose amaretto as we can’t get enough of the stuff over Christmas) or water (or a combination of both). Add a little bit at a time until you get the consistency of runny egg.
- To ice the biscuits I find it easiest to dip the biscuit into the icing mix and then place back on the wire rack while the icing dries. I think this is less messy than pouring the icing over the biscuits, but each to their own!
- Enjoy! These are really yummy so be warned you won’t be able to stop at just one…