I don’t know what I would do without my local Trader Joe’s grocery store. Where else would I go with a shopping list 3 items long and leave an hour later, $70 poorer and with four overflowing shopping bags stuffed to the brim with impulse buys like chocolate-covered soybeans and freeze-dried mangoes? Yes, Trader Joe’s is a magical place, and despite the danger to my wallet, I keep going back, because so many of their products are so darn good.

Take the Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, for instance: an Oreo-like cookie with a cream filling studded with candy cane pieces. Chocolatey, minty, crunchy, creamy… Can it get any better?

Well, actually…
I really like Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s for what they are: a tasty mass-produced, industrially made cookie. But how could they possibly compare to homemade cookies, made fresh, with quality ingredients?

Um, they can’t.

Which is why I’m here to share this recipe for homemade Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s with you.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: this recipe can be a bit time-consuming if you share my nitpicky tendencies and want all of your chocolate wafers to be uniform. That’ll require lots of rolling, cutting, re-rolling, chilling, et cetera. So budget some time for that, and then meet me at Obsessives Anonymous at 7pm sharp. I’ll bring identically-sized treats.

OR you can throw caution to the wind, and just roll the dough into balls and flatten them with a drinking glass. If you go this route, the recipe is a snap to put together: a quick-mixing dough, a short baking time, and a super-fast buttercream of the powdered sugar-and-butter variety.

And the crushing of candy canes. Can’t forget that crucial aspect. Get your heaviest rolling pin and your pent-up angst, it’s about to get real.

I also recommend that you be judicious with the use of pink food coloring, otherwise your Joe-Joe’s will have an alarming shade of pink on the inside, as mine so helpfully demonstrate above. But that’s just one more thing that makes them charmingly homemade. Sorry Trader Joe’s…you can do many things, but these cookie have you beat.

These are a MUST for my holiday Christmas plates every year, but I’m still planning out the rest of my holiday baking. What are your must-makes during the holidays?

Homemade Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

Cookie recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, Dec 2005

Print this Recipe!

* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg

* 3 cups powdered sugar
* 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
* 2 tbsp milk at room temperature
* 1/2 tsp mint extract
* 1/8 tsp salt
* drop of red or pink food coloring

* 4 large candy canes

For cookies:

Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. If you want to roll it out, refrigerate the dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it is a little less than 1/4″ thick. Use a small circular cutter to cut 2″ circles of dough out and place them on the baking sheets. If the dough is still chilled, re-roll and cut out more circles, otherwise, chill it briefly until it is firm enough to work with. Continue until all of the dough has been shaped into circles.

Alternately, scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack).

Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 9-11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:
Sift the powdered sugar. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and powdered sugar until combined–it will look crumbly. Add the milk in a slow stream, then the mint extract and the salt.

Once combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  If the frosting seems too dry and stiff, add a little more milk, a spoonful at a time, until you get a texture you like. Add a drop or two of red or pink food coloring and mix it in.


When you’re ready to assemble the cookies, put the unwrapped candy canes in a large Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into very fine pieces, almost crumbs. You could also use a food processor for this task. The crumbs get sticky if exposed to air for long periods of time, so save this step until you’re ready to use them.

Pipe or spread 2 generous teaspoons of filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently so that the filling comes all the way to the edge of the cookies.

Place the crushed candy canes on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Roll the edges of the cookie sandwiches in crushed candies.