A classic melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie

Melting Moments are a classic, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie.  The vintage recipe has been passed down in my family for generations and we simply can’t get through the holidays without them!

The most delightful melt-in-your-mouth cookie you'll ever make!

melting moments shortbread cookies

There are no curtains on our bedroom window that faces due east out over a woodland marsh, so most mornings I’ll wake to the pre-dawn glow.  So do the dogs, which may have something to do with it, but that’s besides the point.  I’ve always been an early riser, and I treasure the fleeting moments in a darkened kitchen as I grab my first cup of coffee by laptop light.  The world makes no demands on me before dawn, and the day ahead is all possibility.

This morning I wake up to a house as full as it’s ever been.  I’ll have a brief moment to enjoy it; the girls will be gone, back to college, by the new year.  But sitting here in the early morning somehow gives me the sense that I can slow it all down.  Of course I can’t, the sun is already at the horizon.  Luckily this dough comes together in a couple of minutes and can chill while everyone sleeps.

Easy Melting Moments Cookie Recipe

I grew up with these cookies at Christmas. The cornstarch is responsible for the unique melting texture and the frosting makes them sweet like little cakes.  Everyone who tries them loves them.

Easy Melting Moments Holiday Cookie Recipe

These delicate cookies aren’t the best choice for shipping, but they are perfect for setting out on the counter or holiday table, and they survive the journey from plate to mouth just fine.  In place of the vanilla or rum you could try almond, citrus, or peppermint flavors, with the appropriate garnishes.  I have a feeling I’ll eventually try a dark chocolate version but today I’m sticking with the classic as it was typed out on my mom’s recipe card.

Melting Moments Cookie Recipe

The holidays can be a tough time for so many people.  They wash over us like a tidal wave and can leave even the most prepared among us feeling tense, frustrated, even sad.  We feel like we didn’t do enough, didn’t find that perfect present, didn’t get around to decorating the house… maybe we’re missing people who aren’t with us, or remembering idealized holidays past.  This season I’m trying to appreciate each unique moment without thinking too too much about what was, what will be, or what could have been.  At this particular moment our family is whole, and my dough is chilling.  We’ll scoop it out and bake it later this morning.  It’ll be fun.

Melting Moments

Yield: one and a half dozen small cookies

Melting Moments


    for the cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    for the frosting
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cream or milk to thin
  • grated chocolate for garnish


  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Blend together the soft butter, sugar, cornstarch and flour until everything is well incorporated. Cover with plastic and chill for at least an hour.
  3. Using a small spoon or a scoop, form small heaps or balls of dough and set them on an ungreased, cookie sheet. You can use parchment paper if you like.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms are just starting to turn a light brown. The tops will be white. Let the cookies cool a while on the baking sheet, and then transfer them carefully to a cooling rack. The cookies are very delicate, so use a very thin spatula to move them.
  5. Let them cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make the frosting by mixing the butter, sugar, vanilla, and enough milk or cream to make a spreadable consistency. It should be quite thick.
  7. Dab it on top of the cooled cookies, and garnish with some grated chocolate.


  • I used a small 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop to scoop out the dough. Be sure to let your cookie sheets cool down before reusing them, or your cookies will spread.
  • Make sure your butter is truly at room temperature.  If it is chilled it will not get incorporated fully into the dry ingredients and your dough will not come together properly.
  • These cookies are quite delicate, especially when they are still warm.  Move them and frost them gently.  You will be rewarded for your efforts.
Melting Moments Shortbread Cookies

Enjoy your week!  I’ll be back after Christmas

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59 Responses to Melting Moments

  1. Kathi says:

    Can you double this recipe?

  2. Kim says:

    These look delish! Quick question about the scoop you use. 1 3/4 seems kind of large. Is that a typo?

    Thank you for your help and Merry Christmas!

    • Sue says:

      Hey Kim, I just adjusted that to 1 1/4 inch scoop. This is a very old post, and I’m not sure, maybe I did use a bigger scoop originally, but now I use my smallest size. Thanks for catching that!

  3. Jen says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I just made the cookies today and had to try one. They are delicious!!! I am planning on making them every year from now on. :)

  4. Janet says:

    Thank you for the glimpse into your life. I feel the same way. My mom was a fabulous cook and I have several of her recipe cards. Often my sister call to ask how she made certain goodies.
    I love cooking for my family. The house is very empty now. But every holiday I send my kids a big box of goodies that they grew up with. I cant get them what they want or need, but I can provide them with happy memories.

    • Sue says:

      So well said, Janet, and happy memories are worth so much more than any other gift you could give them <3 Have a wonderful holiday!

  5. KathyH says:

    I pinned your recipe to save it for next Christmas! I actually picked the picture of your mom’s recipe for the pin picture because it reminds me so much of my mom’s recipe cards! You can always tell the ‘good’ ones by the little splatters & stains. I have many of my mom & grandmother’s recipes that are like this only hand written, I am looking for a way to display them in my kitchen. Treasured family keepsakes are as important as the actual recipe. Thanks for sharing your recipe & your memory too!

  6. Cindy says:

    help please…the recipe says “flour”…which kind? self-rising or all purpose? There’s nothing n the recipe to make them rise so I’m assuming Self??

    • Sue says:

      I always mean all-purpose flour when it says ‘flour’, Cindy. And there is no rising agent in these cookies because they are a shortbread type of cookie. I will edit the recipe to read all-purpose!

  7. Ann Callis says:

    the picture of the recipe card looks just like the cards I have, also from my mom. It felt like coming home.

  8. Leslie Peters-Ramey says:

    Your post actually brought a tear to my eye. I’m reading this after the holiday tidal wave and have been regretting the things that didn’t get done. Thanks for the reminder to just enjoy what did get done. I’m actually having company in a few days and I’m going to try my hand at these cookies. They sound delicious! And I love your recipe index card- reminds me of my mom and Grandma’s.

  9. Alicia says:

    Merry Christmas! I appreciate what you wrote as much as the recipe. I hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday with your family. I too appreciate early morning too.

  10. Janine says:

    Thank you sooo much for this recipe. I am going to try them this Christmas. You are so right about the stress of the holidays…..never enough time !!!

  11. […] are a variation on my mom’s traditional Melting Moments.  I thought it would be fun to give them a coconut makeover.  I love how they look like little […]

  12. […] Melting Moments | The View from Great Island […]

  13. Andie says:

    These came out absolutely perfect! Delicious little cookies for my holiday party. I added some peach champagne jam to the tops and a little bit of orange zest and they were delightful! Thank you for the recipe!

  14. Debbie Poffenbarger says:

    Thanks for sharing these cookies. I’m going to make them for the holidays. Glad I looked good through your post because I think the flour was left out at the first recipe. Then, I kept reading and saw that it did have flour in it. LOL
    P.S. I’m a night owl.

  15. Leslie says:

    Can you freeze them with or without the frosting?

  16. helen vail says:

    Loved the read! Needed that this mourning.Loved the receipe card. Brought back memories of my moma’s.

  17. […] call for it when they are looking for a very delicate crumb and no trace of graininess.  My Melting Moments cookies, for instance, use confectioner’s sugar in both the cookie dough and the icing.  You […]

  18. theresa Hays says:

    I’m a self admitted work-in-progress perfectionist and this is just too funny not to share. The set-up: the oldest is driving 10 hours for a short visit and i’m in a kerfuffle about what to make and have on hand. I spy this recipe which has Andrew’s name all over it and while, yes I gotta make a grocery run, its gonna be quick. So I’m throwin’ things together, lovin’ the taste of the raw dough (so silky, so luscious)-could I really have eaten a whole stick? Its lookin’ kinda puny, but in to the oven it goes. I check 1/2 way through and I don’t have cookies, I have a light yellow warm skating ring as flat as the proverbial pancake. Now, lest i sound like i don’t know my way around a kitchen (i do, twuly i do) i had even read all the other comments so, no rube me. But me in my dotage, well semi-dotage did not see the ever important ingredient flour. How could I have missed it…well, sometimes cornstarch stands in for flour, so who would have thunk? Obviously not me…now i have to give ’em a shot. Despair not-these will have flour…:)

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am a newbie here which kind of flour All Purpose or Self Rising?

  20. Anonymous says:

    We also had these at Christmas. Just a drop of sweetness that melted on your tongue. We frosted some pink and some
    green so they were quite festive on a cookie plate – but always the first to go ;-) Christa

  21. annie says:

    These look so yummy and I saw them earlier on your blog, but didn’t have time to leave a comment and then saw them on pinterest! I love your words today too…you are so right…enjoy the moments right now! Merry Christmas!

  22. Rose says:

    Merry Christmas, Sue!

    PS: I will be enjoying many eclairs while on vacation. I will be thinking of you. :)

  23. Anonymous—Sorry they didn’t turn out for you. Maybe try making them a bit smaller, they should be just starting to turn a light brown at the bottom when they’re done. I do hope you try them again!

  24. Hi Sue. This is a lovely post for Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

    I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I made these this morning and the texture was not right – maybe they are not good when it’s humid? Or maybe I needed to cook them longer since the insides were the texture of too-thick mashed potato. Also mine retained a corn starchy taste I didn’t enjoy. I soaked them in Bailey’s & milk and that redeemed them a little :-)

  26. grace says:

    these have been around FOREVER, and for good reason. i like your execution here, sue. merry christmas to you!

  27. I love the photo of the original typed recipe. What a great physical link to Christmases past. I love the early morning quiet too.
    Merry Christmas! Enjoy your family time.

  28. We are facing a difficult Christmas, it is so nice that you mentioned that it isn’t always a happy time – that said we will do our very best to make it as happy as possible for the kids, and that really is what it is all about.

    I love these melt in the mouth cookies – they are going to the top of my “to try” stack!!

  29. Melting moments have the best texture, so irresistible!

  30. These look so delicate, I just have to try them!

  31. Magnolia Verandah says:

    I have really enjoyed your blog – albeit I am a new follower. I would love to be an early riser to experience the peace of the morning -but I am a night owl like Louise so I struggle to open my eyes before 7am. Love your mum’s recipe – they are the best.

  32. Some of the best recipes come off old cards. Your cookies look wonderful. Happy Holidays!

  33. Paula says:

    Hi Sue! could your recipes come with a cross-trainer, please? ;-)
    Pasta puttanesca, almond barks … you enriched the life in the Paula Residence! The jeans still fit. :-)

  34. Stephanie says:

    And I almost forgot…LOVED the chickpea fries! So easy. Thanks :)

  35. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful post and message this morning. The cookies look wonderful as well.

  36. Joanne says:

    I’m an early riser also…love the peacefulness of the morning. I’ve been trying not to be too hard on myself this Christmas and just roll with the punches. If I get things done, great. If not, no biggie.

    These cookies sound absolutely delicious. I might not have time to make them for Christmas…but I think they’ll be delicious at any time of year!

  37. Barbara says:

    Even I might be able to do these….I have everything except the chocolate….

  38. I think my Mother made these when we were growing up…
    wishing you a Merry Christmas!

    You are one amazing cook!

    Happy Holidays,

    Hugs from the Hostess,

  39. Great post, thank you for sharing. I am a night owl so I enjoy the quiet late at night when everyone else has gone to bed. Then my thoughts are my own and no fear of being disturbed! Merry Christmas to you and your family, and best wishes for the New Year!

  40. These sound lovely! I love early quiet mornings too. Happy holidays!

  41. It’s great to have a tried and true family cookie recipe. These cookies look delicious and light as air!!

  42. These look so adorable. I MUST have my hour or so in the morning to feel like I’ve captured the morning quiet. I hate when I sleep in! You are so right about the “expectations” of Christmas. We all carry around our good and bad memories of holiday times.

  43. DaniBP says:

    Thanks so much for this post.. definitely for the recipe but also your thoughts on Christmas. I think you are a wonderful writer.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! I am going to be thinking of this post as I try to live right in the moment without any regret or “what’s next”. So thanks for that gift!

  44. I just love that time of day, too. The world around you is still asleep and you’re savoring the silence and eventually the sounds of everybody waking up. Sigh. I hope you have a wonderful time with your full house. I love the sound of these melting moments…I must try them. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Sue :).

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