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.
Here are the other Melting Moment cookie variations I’ve done so far ~
- PEPPERMINT MELTING MOMENTS
- COCONUT SNOWBALL MELTING MOMENTS
- CAPPUCCINO MELTING MOMENTS
- DEEP CHOCOLATE KAHLUA BITES
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.
- 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.
Questions and Reviews
I love your story that accompanies thus recipe post as well as your mother’s recipe card. I read it too late for Christmas but will make a plate of these cookies for my sweetie. Happy New Year Sue.
Sue, my mouth is watering just thinking about making these cookies. Will be making these for Christmas. Are they best stored on the counter or refrigerated?
Either is fine Carolyn.
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.
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!!??
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!
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.