Melting Moments (holiday butter cookies)

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I could say that my mother is known for her melting moments, but such a statement might easily be misconstrued. While she may not mind the connotation, I think what I should say instead is that she is known for these delicate buttery cookies called Melting Moments. We made these cookies together for Christmas every year, and now that we live in different states, one or the other of us still makes them for the holidays. This year, I made a batch for no other reason than to share them here. (Oh, the sacrifices I make for my readers.) Give them a try, and I’m sure they will become one of your holiday favorites. With only a few ingredients and just a hint of lemon, these cookies really live up to their name: they “melt” in your mouth and only last a “moment.”

Melting Moments

For the cookies:
1 C (2 sticks) salted butter (at room temperature)
1/3 C powdered sugar
1 C flour
2/3 C corn starch

For the frosting:
2½ T butter (at room temperature)
1½ C powdered sugar (6 oz)
2 T lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)

Note: use REAL butter for these cookies, as they will not turn out with margarine. And do not use unsalted butter: be sure to use salted butter.

In a large bowl, cream the butter well. Add the powdered sugar, flour and corn starch and mix well. Drop in 1-inch chunks on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes or just until the bottoms are lightly brown. Allow cookies to cool completely before frosting.

Mix frosting ingredients well and gently frost the cooled cookies.


Step by Step Details

These cookies require only a few ingredients and are super easy to make. The recipe can easily be doubled….or tripled.

Be sure to use REAL butter for these cookies, as margarine will not work. And make sure to use SALTED butter, not unsalted. Trust me: one year I made a quadruple batch of these with unsalted butter, and ended up tossing the entire batch. They were pretty awful.

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In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

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Add the powdered sugar, flour and corn starch. You can sift them in if you want, but I usually don’t.

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Continue mixing the dough until well combined.

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Drop in 1-inch chunks on an ungreased cookie sheet. I use a spoon to scoop out the dough, then pull off little chunks from there.

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Keep them smaller than you think they should be: they should only be bite sized. Since they don’t spread, they can be placed pretty close together.

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Helpful hint: to make it easier to frost the cookies later, lightly tap the top of each cookie to flatten it out a little.

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Bake at 325° for 15 minutes or just until the bottoms are lightly brown.

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Allow cookies to cool completely before frosting. They are very fragile when cooled, but even more fragile while still warm. Frosting them too early will just make them crumble apart. Plus, you get crumbs in the frosting, which doesn’t look so nice.

While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Place the butter, lemon juice and powdered sugar in a bowl (you can even reuse the dough bowl if you haven’t washed it yet).

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Beat on high until light and very well blended.

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If cooling the cookies overnight, put the frosting in a container and leave it covered at room temperature. It will get too solid if it’s refrigerated, and it will dry out if left uncovered.

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To frost the cookies, I find it easiest to pick each one up and cradle it in my hand while gently dabbing on the frosting. They are very fragile, so you will quickly learn to be very gentle.

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The frosting should be spreadable but not runny. Sometimes the cookies will break apart a bit from the pressure of frosting them. If this happens, use a gentler touch and, if needed, you can soften the frosting just a touch in the microwave (about 5 seconds). Nuke it any longer and it will get too liquidy, which will give a glazed, smooth look (like the cookie on the left).

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If you like that look, it’s okay to do it, but be aware that the frosting will harden more that way.

Store the frosted cookies in a covered container at room temperature. Allow the frosting to harden first if stacking them.

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Plate up some cookies for Santa and take a “melting” moment for yourself this holiday season. Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “Melting Moments (holiday butter cookies)

  1. Diane, these were the first things we made in “Domestic Science” at school when I was 12! Though I have to say ours were “naked” (no frosting), but still a favorite here in our family….like he tradition of Sausage rolls” for breakfast on Christmas morning!


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