Clementine Melting Moments

Clementine Melting Moments on a green plate with a cut clementine

Clementine Melting Moments  ~ can a simple cookie really taste like a fresh juicy clementine? You bet, these little bite sized, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies are infused with the essence of fresh Clementines through and through. Make them for the holidays, or any time clementines are in season.

Clementine Melting Moments on a green plate

Does your family have a signature holiday cookie? Ours are Melting Moments. My sister makes the originals every Christmas, but I’ve been busy changing them up for years,  In fact I don’t feel right if I haven’t come up with a new version by Christmas Day. I always thought Melting Moments were passed down from my great-grandmother, but it turns out, as I learned many years later, my mom actually got the recipe from a neighbor of ours during the 70s. I’ll never know how I made that giant leap between fact and fiction in my head, but I’m sticking with my story…I like it better that way.

Clementine Melting Moments on a green platter

Melting Moments are a homey cookie compared to some of the elaborate treats we bake up during the holidays, and that’s what makes them so endearing. They’re really just little heaps of shortbread dough…it’s more about tradition than about fancy techniques. They taste good because they taste like the holiday season.

The joy of Melting Moments, if you ask me, comes as that dollop of buttercream frosting mingles with the fragile crumbling shortbread in your mouth. It’s pure heaven.

I’m very happy with this variation, it’s the first time I’ve used citrus as a flavor in this cookie. I added a full 2 tablespoons of clementine zest to the dough, and then made the frosting with the juice. The originals had shaved chocolate dusted on top, but for my version I’m using more zest. I’m pleased with how the clementine flavor shines through.

Clementine Melting Moments on a green plate with a cut clementine

Here are the other Melting Moment cookies on the blog ~

I’ve made a slight adjustment to this version of Melting Moments. The reason? I was almost out of cornstarch and I didn’t want to to go the store. The original recipe has a whopping 3/4 cup of cornstarch and I only used 1/4 cup this time. They came out great, which is good to know for any of you who don’t care for the heavy cornstarch presence in the original cookies.

Clementine Melting Moments on a cooling rack with grater

Clementine Melting Moments on a green plate with a cut clementine
3.75 from 27 votes

Clementine Melting Moments

Course cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Author Sue Moran



  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tbsp clementine zest don't skimp! (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch


  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter room temperature
  • juice of 2 or 3 clementines for thinning the frosting


  • Cream the butter and sugar together with the zest. Gradually add the flour and cornstarch and mix until the dough comes together.
  • Finish bringing the dough together with a big spoon until there are no dry crumbly bits. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Using a small scoop, or a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop out dough and roll into a ball. Place on an un-greased baking sheet 2 inches apart and bake for about 11-12 minutes. They will still be pale, but may look slightly golden around the bottom edge. (Longer cooking will result in a crunchier cookie, shorter cooking time results in a softer shortbread.) Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, blend the soft butter with the sugar, adding enough juice to get it to a spreadable consistency. If it becomes too thin, add a little more sugar. Stir until it is creamy, with no sugar lumps. Frost each cookie and garnish with a sprinkle of zest.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make these Clementine Melting Moments your own ~

  • Don’t be hemmed in by the Clementine in the title, use any citrus you like. I almost went with Meyer lemon (that might just have to be my 2020 Melting Moment!)


Clementine cookies on a platter.

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  • Reply
    Cynthia Angst
    December 28, 2019 at 5:11 am

    My family loved these. My niece made them for her family. Such a lovely little cookie for a holiday plate

    • Reply
      December 28, 2019 at 8:41 am

      I’m happy to hear that, thanks Cynthia. I made a delicious Meyer Lemon version of these cookies this year, but didn’t get a chance to post them before xmas…I am going to post them in January, they were so good!

  • Reply
    rosemary crawford george
    December 23, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    they just came out of the oven, smells like oranges in my kitchen, I added a wee bit of apple pie spice to the dough , and I made them in a nonstick mini muffin pan for a perfect shape I will frost them in the morning, I just tried one without frosting and it tastes and smells great, and it does actually melt in your mouth. thanks for this unique recipe. I might also try it with some cara cara oranges later this week

    • Reply
      December 24, 2018 at 7:50 am

      Thanks Rosemary, have a wonderful holiday!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    These cookies look fabulous! I really adore the idea of using this winter fruit in cookies.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    These look so fantastic. I am actually intrigued by the original melting moments you provided the link for (with more cornstarch). So this cookie is kind of delicate–is that what the cornstarch does? I love shortbread and would like to try these because they seem different and the frosting looks divine. But I am wondering about the difference in taste between the originals with the 3/4 c. and these with the 1/4 c. What exactly does the cornstarch do and can you really taste it in the original cookie?

    • Reply
      December 21, 2018 at 11:24 am

      Cornstarch does make the cookies more delicate and tender, and gives that unique melting mouth feel. You can detect the presence of the cornstarch more in the original cookies, but it’s hard to describe the difference in words, you need to taste 🙂

  • Reply
    Victoria Schwalbe
    December 17, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Sue…. You are the queen of citrus, and my hero. I’m probably one of the only people on the planet who doesn’t worship all things chocolate. Give me the tang of citrus every time. So this is our season!!!! Eagerly awaiting the arrival of blood oranges. Finished with Christmas cookie baking for this year….31 different cookies, but I will make these in January. Keep the great recipes coming. Thank you

    • Reply
      December 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      omg you deserve a big nap after all those cookies ~ you put me to shame! I’m excited for blood oranges too, I’ve been dreaming about what to do with them this year 🙂

  • Reply
    December 17, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Have you tested these cookies (any of the Melting Moments, not just these specifically) with gluten-free flour? I miss shortbread cookies! But I know from trial and error that not all recipes work so well with GF flour.

    • Reply
      December 17, 2018 at 10:44 am

      I haven’t tried these, but I have tried my regular shortbread with Bob’s Red Mill gf baking mix and it came out pretty good. I think these might be ok because they don’t have a crisp texture, so losing the gluten shouldn’t be so much of an issue.

      • Reply
        December 18, 2018 at 3:40 am

        I will try it out and report back. 🙂

  • Reply
    2 sisters recipes
    December 17, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Love this idea for flavoring a short bread cookie! Yum !! I have get busy in the kitchen and make these ASAP!! Genius!

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