Melting Moments

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Easy Melting Moments Cookie Recipe
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!

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.

Melting Moments Recipe Card

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.

Here are the other Melting Moment cookie variations I’ve done so far ~

Melting Moments
Rate this recipe
121 ratings

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Category: cookies, dessert

Cuisine: American

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

Melting Moments

Easy little shortbread drop cookies with a melt in your mouth texture!


    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. Blend together the soft butter, sugar, cornstarch and flour until everything is well incorporated. Cover with plastic and chill for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  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.
Nutrition label for Melting Moments


  • 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.

Don’t forget to pin these Melting Moments



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Leave a Reply


  • Reply
    January 29, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    When you say to blend the butter, etc, are you talking about mixing with a spoon or a mixer?

    • Reply
      January 30, 2019 at 6:54 am

      You can do it either way Dwana. I usually love to use my stand mixer because it seems easier.

  • Reply
    Toni Callies
    December 25, 2018 at 11:57 am

    I had a problem with them. They totally flattened out into 1 sheet of cookie dough. No mounds as how I put them on the pan. What did I do wrong?

  • Reply
    Shortbread Cookie Recipe -
    November 26, 2018 at 3:05 am

    […] 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 :). Recipe below. Shortbread Cookie Recipe […]

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Did you know your recipe and maybe your photos are on this website?

    I look forward to making them from your recipe & your blog.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2018 at 4:24 am

      Thanks Christal, I’m fine with sites sharing a photo and link, as long as they don’t publish my recipe. I appreciate you keeping an eye out for me! Some sites do take advantage for sure. And I hope you love the cookies, I’m gearing up to make my first batch of the season soon :)

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I made these and the batter came out very dry and crumbly! I read the recipe over and over again, thinking I may have missed something, but I didn’t. Can you tell me why it may have turned out like this?

    • Reply
      November 15, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      These cookies are based on a shortbread type dough, Michelle, which is crumbly by nature. You can always add a little milk for extra moisture if your dough does not come together. Sometimes the type of butter or the way you measure the flour can change the composition of the dough so it needs a little extra liquid to help it along.

  • Reply
    Marie Tate
    November 15, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Can you use salted butter? Is there a difference?

    • Reply
      November 15, 2018 at 6:27 am

      Salted butter will make the cookies too salty, I think, Marie.

  • Reply
    dawn polanco
    December 12, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    do these need to be covered and refrigerated after making

    • Reply
      December 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      No, not really, Dawn, I keep them out on the counter, under loose foil or under a cake dome. They will last a few days like that. Otherwise you can refrigerate them for longer storage.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

    What a fabulous, tried and true holiday cookie! My family would definitely approve—they think frosting belongs on every dessert :)

    • Reply
      November 20, 2017 at 10:06 am

      I have to agree with you Liz, frosting is key!!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Can there be frozen until Christmas?

    • Reply
      November 19, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Yes, but I think I would add the toppings after you defrost them.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Can you double this recipe?

    • Reply
      January 1, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Yes Kathi!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2015 at 6:57 am

    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!

    • Reply
      December 21, 2015 at 9:02 am

      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!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    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. :)

    • Reply
      December 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      I’m so happy to inspire a tradition like that Jen, they are really special in our family…have a wonderful holiday!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 7:49 am

    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.

    • Reply
      December 8, 2015 at 7:54 am

      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!

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