Melting Moments

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 shortbread cookies
3.34 from 195 votes

Melting Moments

Easy little shortbread drop cookies with a melt in your mouth texture!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
chilling 1 hour
Yield 20 cookies
Author Sue Moran


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


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


  • 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 pin

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  • Reply
    July 25, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Sue, I just made your cookies for the first time. Was guided by your instructions that they were 20 cookies a batch. Since I had made two batched, I divided the dough with a line through the center of the bowl. I put the first 20 on a sheet and they came out fine but rather huge. I made second batch slightly smaller but still to big. I could hardly touch them to transfer or ice them they are so breakable even when fully cooled!!! I wanted them to be able to be put in your mouth bite. Second batch was better but still fragile. Third batch did the best. In all I made 64 cookies from these two batch. They made nice mounding cookies but even when iced taste terrible of corn starch. I am a huge baker and this recipe was just one of 12 I made last weekend. I’m going to try these again, all small and probable add some almond extract to the dough. Saw I had to leave email address for the comment. PLEASE don’t forward me stuff to this email.

  • Reply
    Dionakaye Sims
    February 25, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Hi Sue! I tried to make these 2 oz heaped cookies right out of the freezer and they flattened out completely. I’m old school, so I sifted the flour, the confectioner’s sugar, as well as the cornstarch. Is this where I went wrong? So wanted these to be good for our Deli case to sell at MorningStar, Fort Mill, SC. I am the primary baker here at an international hotel and conference center!!??

    • Reply
      February 25, 2020 at 8:59 am

      Hi Dionakaye ~ the first thing that comes to mind is the dry ingredient to butter ratio, since there is a lot of butter in these cookies even a slight variation can cause them to spread. Try measuring your dry ingredients without sifting. Sometimes I find that even different cookie sheets can make a difference in how cookies spread, so avoid thick or insulated pans. And cooking them after they have been really chilled should do the trick. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    5 stars
    I haven’t even made the frosting for these cookies yet and I am already in love! The texture is so light and crumbly and they just dissolve in your mouth. I hope there are enough left to actually frost. They may get eaten before the frosting makes an appearance. I didn’t have unsalted butter so I just used salted. I think the cookies are DELICIOUS. Hopefully the frosting will be ok with salted butter.

  • Reply
    Kathy Roberts
    December 19, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    5 stars
    These are the best cookies ever! I tried them the first time last Christmas and loved them. I made a batch the other day and today I am making a double batch so we have plenty!
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      I’m especially happy to hear this Kathy because they’re the cookies I grew up with every holiday season 🙂 Enjoy!

  • 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
    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!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      March 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      So glad you found the recipe, Kathy — I look forward to hearing how you like it next Christmas!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    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??

    • Reply
      February 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Ann Callis
    December 30, 2014 at 7:14 am

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

    • Reply
      December 30, 2014 at 7:15 am

      Love that Ann!

    • Reply
      January 20, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      I had the same feeling Ann. The first thing I thought of when I saw the typing was Mom. I was the one that typed up all her recipes for her and now I have them. Great memories.

  • Reply
    Leslie Peters-Ramey
    December 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

    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.

    • Reply
      December 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks Leslie, I had my moments of regret too this year, thank goodness we have cookies to console us 🙂

  • Reply
    December 25, 2014 at 4:13 am

    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.

    • Reply
      December 26, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Thanks so much, Alicia!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    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 !!!

    • Reply
      December 21, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      You said it! Thanks for visiting Janine!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      December 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      I’m always looking for variations on these, thanks for the feedback Andie!

  • Reply
    Debbie Poffenbarger
    December 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Can you freeze them with or without the frosting?

    • Reply
      December 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      You can definitely freeze them, either way. You can also freeze them unbaked.

  • Reply
    helen vail
    November 22, 2013 at 4:10 am

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

  • Reply
    theresa Hays
    September 10, 2012 at 3:47 am

    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…:)

  • Reply
    August 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

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

    • Reply
      December 2, 2013 at 10:10 am

      All purpose!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    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

  • Reply
    December 26, 2011 at 2:49 am

    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!

    • Reply
      December 2, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Annie!

  • Reply
    December 25, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Merry Christmas, Sue!

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

  • Reply
    Sue/the view from great island
    December 24, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    A Bigger Closet
    December 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm

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

    I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas.

  • Reply
    December 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    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 🙂

  • Reply
    December 24, 2011 at 8:19 am

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

  • Reply
    Katie @ baking unadorned
    December 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Brownieville Girl
    December 23, 2011 at 7:16 am

    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!!

  • Reply
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    December 23, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Melting moments have the best texture, so irresistible!

  • Reply
    December 23, 2011 at 3:37 am

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

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    December 22, 2011 at 11:45 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Gerlinde in Dallas
    December 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm

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

  • Reply
    December 22, 2011 at 8:17 am

    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. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

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

  • Reply
    December 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm

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

  • Reply
    December 22, 2011 at 11:47 am

    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!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2011 at 6:29 am

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

  • Reply
    hostess of the humble bungalow
    December 22, 2011 at 3:52 am

    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,

  • Reply
    Louise @ cosmetic bee
    December 22, 2011 at 3:26 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic
    December 22, 2011 at 3:03 am

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

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    December 22, 2011 at 1:24 am

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

  • Reply
    Sarah (Snippets of Thyme)
    December 22, 2011 at 12:37 am

    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.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Heather @
    December 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    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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