Unplugged: Machineless Baking. Meltaway Cookies

January 7, 2014

in Cookies, Recipes, Shortbread

 Meltaways. Photo 1.

I am traveling this winter, escaping the Montana cold, and I find myself without my electric machines. No hand or stand mixer and no food processor. What to do? Bake by hand, of course. Sound revolutionary? Well, considering that most baking had to be accomplished by hand before our homes became electrified about a century ago, it’s worth unplugging occasionally to put our arms and hands back to work making batters and doughs. After all, that’s why we have them, isn’t it?A few days ago I bit into a meltaway cookie at a pastry shop that literally melted in my mouth. The cookie, not the pastry shop. It had a rich buttery taste and an incredibly smooth texture from a combination of flour and cornstarch. I decided I just had to make them myself.

Reading and comparing many recipes revealed that Meltaways are a form of shortbread, but instead of being crisp and crunchy they show no resistance when bitten and readily surrender their sweet tenderness. The dough is extremely easy to mix up and shape, and the cookies keep for a couple of weeks stored airtight at room temperature. That is, if you can stop yourself from devouring them. I’ve seen recipes that include finely chopped nuts or chocolate and some say to even ice the cookies. I say No! to all of these ideas. The whole point of a meltaway is that it melts away in your mouth into a puddle of buttery sweetness.

I decided to mix the dough in a medium-large glass bowl in our rented condo. I sliced cold unsalted butter into pieces and let them soften slightly in the bowl. I added a bit of vanilla and beat the two together with a wooden spoon until the butter became smooth and malleable.

Meltaways.CreamingButterI added all the dry ingredients, mixed them in with the spoon only until there were large clumps, then kneaded everything together with a hand until the dough was smooth. That’s it!

Meltaways.Kneaded DoughI shaped the dough into a rectangle and cut it into 24 pieces.

Meltaways.DoughCut.I rolled each piece into a ball and set the balls a few inches apart on foil-lined baking sheets.

Meltaways.DoughBallsAfter dusting them lightly with confectioners’ sugar I flattened them slightly with the bottom of a glass.

Meltaways.DoughFlattenedThen bake. The cookies are done when they show just a faint line of browning along their bottom edges. Don’t overbake. Let them cool completely before eating one. It’s quite a thrill experiencing them melt into sweetness.




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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kay Whitlock January 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

Can’t wait to try these. They sound easy and delicious.


Greg Patent January 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Let me know how they turn out.


Barbarainnc January 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm

At one time, there was a recipe for these on the back of the cornstarch box. I made them. YUM YUM, they really melt in your mouth. Don’t worry about storing them for 2 weeks, they won’t last that long!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂


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