“What the heck is a Candy Cane Joe Joe?”, some of you may be asking. Ah, ’tis a sad business that not everyone in the world can know the pleasures of the Candy Cane Joe Joe. Perhaps it should be my personal mission in life to introduce all of my friends and family to Candy Cane Joe Joe’s. On the other hand, ignorance may be bliss and it may be better for their mental well-being if they never knew what they were missing.
I suppose a little explanation is in order. A Joe Joe, in it’s most basic form, is the Trader Joe’s version of an Oreo. And being a product of Trader Joe’s, they are surely less junky than the Oreos of my childhood. There are a few different flavours to stay in lock-step with the Nabisco cookies, such as chocolate cream, vanilla and peanut butter, and these are available year round. I am sure they are all lovely, but as I don’t go in for sandwich cookies much, I haven’t really tried them.
However, around Thanksgiving (and by this, I mean the American one near the end of November), Trader Joe’s puts out the limited edition Candy Cane Joe Joe. The first time I bought them it was for the kids, but then I tried one, and I was hooked. These aren’t just peppermint flavoured regular Joe Joe’s. These have little bits of crushed up candy cane in the cream filling which give them extra crunch and flavour. And then there are the dark chocolate covered Candy Cane Joe Joe’s. These are so good, I refuse to share them with my children and I actually refer to them as “The Adult Version”.
I know I am not the only person who feels this slavish devotion to a peppermint sandwich cookie. Candy Cane Joe Joe’s have inspired something of a cult. I am not kidding when I say this. I have been behind other customers whose entire carts are filled with boxes of these cookies. And there is a Facebook Group entirely devoted to the Candy Cane Joe Joe. Really, there is…and yes, I am a member. Sadly, there aren’t Trader Joe’s stores in every corner of America, and there are none at all in my beloved homeland. So not everyone can quite comprehend the minty deliciousness of which I speak. Although I do know that a package of the chocolate-covered variety managed to sneak their way across the border in the suitcase of one of my relations this past Christmas!
Amazingly, we ended up with some leftover CC Joe Joe’s this year. We had so many treats in our house over the holidays that a half-eaten box managed to get pushed to the back of the shelf and somewhat forgotten. I was worried about them going stale and I wanted to use them up quickly. And an unseasonably warm few days got me thinking about making ice cream with the kids, so putting the two together was a natural next step. Mint ice cream with chunks of crushed Candy Cane Joe Joe’s…mmm, mmm, good.
The Results I’ve made ice cream in the past and always been a little meh about it, but this turned out really, really well! The mint flavour was just right, not too overpowering, and the chunks of cookie made it extra tasty. I took the time to actually chill the ice cream maker bowl properly, as well as the custard, and it froze wonderfully. It might have been even creamier if I’d used heavy cream and whole milk instead of half-and-half and 1%, but unlike my past attempts, it stayed scoopable even after a few days in the freezer. The kids loved it and keep asking me to make more. Alas, the Candy Cane Joe Joe’s are gone, not to be seen again until next Thanksgiving, so we shall have to come up with some other flavours of ice cream this summer.
Candy Cane Joe Joe Ice Cream
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp peppermint extract
2 drops green food colouring gel
1 cup chopped Candy Cane Joe Joe’s
Place the canister of an ice cream maker in freezer for at least 12 hours.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a large container of ice water.
Heat cream, milk and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture is steaming and reaches 175F.
In a separate bowl, whisk yolks and remaining sugar until smooth. Very slowly, whisk in 1 cup hot milk mixutre to yolks. Then slowly whisk tempered egg yolks back into remaining hot milk and continue to cook over medium heat until very hot but not simmering (185F).
Strain the custard into the bowl set in ice water and cool for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerater for at least 3 hours.
When the custard is chilled, stir in peppermint extract and food colouring. Mix well, then pour into pre-chilled canister and churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add chopped Joe Joe’s to ice cream in the last minute of churning. Serve immediately.
Remaining ice cream should be stored in an air tight container with plastic wrap flush against the surface.