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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 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
- Set oven to 350F
- Blend together the soft butter, sugar, cornstarch and flour until everything is well incorporated. Cover with plastic and chill for at least an hour.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let them cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting by mixing the butter, sugar, vanilla, and enough milk or cream to make a spreadable consistency. It should be quite thick.
- 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.
Enjoy your week! I’ll be back after Christmas