A treasured Stoller family tradition passed down through generations, these (dairy and gluten-free!) cinnamon-kissed cookies are sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next family gathering or cookie exchange. The key ingredients in these star-shaped treats are egg whites, nuts (typically hazelnuts but almonds can be used), and the comforting aroma of cinnamon. You can also enhance the flavor by adding a touch of vanilla or orange zest.
- 7/8 C of egg whites (approx. 8 small eggs) at room temperature
- 1 lb of powdered sugar
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 tsp of cocoa powder
- 1 lb of coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Nuts must be raw, completely dry, and unsalted.
- Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form, creating a meringue. The mixture should be stable and not move when you turn the bowl upside down.
- Mix in the cinnamon with the meringue. Then, set 1/2 C aside in a separate bowl to be used for icing later.
- Using the remaining meringue mixture, gently fold in the cocoa powder and ground hazelnuts. Combine them thoroughly to form the dough.
- Place the dough on parchment paper that’s lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Shape it into a disk and refrigerate the dough for at least 4-6 hours. Chilling helps with handling and shaping the dough.
- After the dough has been rested and chilled, sprinkle your work area with powdered sugar and roll out the dough. Then, use small star-shaped cookie cutters to cut out the cookie shapes. Place them on a lined cookie sheet to rest at room temperature for at least 10-12 hours or overnight. This resting period helps develop their flavor and texture.
- Retrieve the reserved meringue mixture you set aside earlier. NOTE-these cookies are topped with a meringue icing before baking. You can use a piping bag or a butter knife to ice the tops of the star-shaped cookies with this mixture. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. They will come out of the oven soft but will harden as they cool. Be careful! The meringue in the cookie makes the cookie turn rock hard if over baked.
- Once the cookies have cooled, store them in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks to maintain their freshness. You can also freeze them for 6 weeks for later enjoyment.
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies (depending on size of cookie cutter)