As a child I’d lay in bed listening to the murmurs and fluttered activity that happened just outside of my bedroom door. I listened for evidence of what I feared the most; that my parents stayed up late, partying and eating ice cream and cookies while I was in bed. Vivid scenes played in my head of my parents on the couch congratulating themselves on finally getting us to sleep, high fives were exchanged while one flipped on the tv and the other ran to the kitchen to fetch the late-night party food.
Now I’m on the other side of the bedroom door and realizing that my fears as a child were completely warranted because in our house we totally party when the kidlets are sleeping. There aren’t streamers and party hats and sometimes the party ends with me asleep on the couch by 9:30 but there are often marathon sessions of The West Wing and currently there are cookies.
To fuel these late night parties, in a moment of genius or weakness, it’s hard to decide which sometimes, I grabbed a box of Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Joe Joe’s at Trader Joe’s. For the next few nights after that I’d tiptoe to the cupboard grab a cookie from the box. Slowly I’d nibble away at the cookie wondering why I’d only grabbed one box and why isn’t Jed Bartlet a real presidential candidate?
Before you start thinking that I’m completely heartless and I don’t share my cookies with my poor children let me assure you that they were the reason I thought to make these cookies ourselves. Well, that and my box was almost out.
I used Deb’s recipe for Homemade Oreos (which is actually her version of Wayne Brachman’s recipe from Retro Desserts) as my starting point. I should actually say, WE because my boys nearly made these cookies themselves. They were particularly helpful when it came time to roll the dough into dozens of gumball sized balls. They also thoroughly enjoyed smashing candy canes into thousands of tiny pieces.
The recipe calls for shortening in the filling and I had Gabe pick some up on his way home because although I never use the stuff otherwise but I craved a very accurate rendition and nothing gives that same odd yet comforting mouthfeel like shortening. If you prefer, skip the shortening and use all butter. That is perfectly acceptable.
I took these cookies one step further and dipped them in bittersweet chocolate and topped them with a bit of salt which tips the scale from too sweet to just right. If you aren’t a fan of peppermint feel free to leave that out, if you’re a super fan feel free to add more.
No longer hidden in the cupboards and hoarded for our late night parents-only parties, these cookies are now the star of our 2015 holiday cookie plate.
Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's
Makes approximately 2 dozen sandwich cookies
1 1/4 cups/155 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup /45 grams unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup /200 grams sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 140 grams) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup /1/2 stick / 55 grams room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup /50 grams vegetable shortening (or use an additional 1/2 cup butter)
2 cups /240 grams confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon coconut oil
For the cookie: Preheat your oven to 375°F and line two sheet trays with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can mix this with an electric mixer or by hand) combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix just to combine. Add the butter and egg and mix on low until a stiff dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is well mixed.
Roll the dough into teaspoon sized balls and leave about two inches of space between each ball. Flatten each cookie slightly just before baking.
Bake for 9-10 minutes, until crackly on top and just set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.
For the filling: While the cookies cool combine the butter, shortening (if using), confectioners’ sugar, salt, and extracts in the bowl of a mixer. Begin mixing on low until the sugar is incorporated then increase the speed to medium high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Decrease the speed to low before adding in the candy canes.
Spread about 1 teaspoon of the filling (you can pipe it in if you want it to look real nice, just like the real thing) on half of the cookies then top with the other half.
For the dip: Melt the chocolate with the coconut oil over a double boiler or in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring well after each heating. Using a fork, dip the cookies into the chocolate then set on a parchment lined sheet tray. Top with a few flakes of salt and then set the tray in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm, about 10 minutes.
Well covered, the cookies will keep for up to 1 week.