UConn Bakes: Festive Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

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Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

Cookie swaps, office parties, and family gatherings all conspire to put even the most dedicated baker into a sugar-fueled panic. With this scrumptious, tried-and-true cookie recipe, offered by an alumna, you can at least check one item off your lengthy December to-do list.

Kelly Vass ’07 (CLAS), an alumni volunteer based in Philadelphia, discovered her passion for baking while completing her graduate studies at Villanova. She started a blog, Kelly Bakes, to hone her digital marketing skills at the same time—eventually landing a job at Buffer, a company that helps organizations manage their social media presence.

Kelly Bakes was featured on Edible Philly for its beautiful photography and mouthwatering recipes. Here, Kelly offers one of her favorite holiday recipes. They’re “a homemade version of Trader Joe’s Jo Jo’s, which are highly addictive chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies and the sole reason I gain 5 lbs each December,” she writes.


Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Prep time: One hour
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: One hour, 15 minutes


For the shortbread

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

For the filling

  • 1/3 shortening
  • 1 1/4 TB peppermint extract
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Crushed candy canes (optional)


For the shortbread dough

  1. Cream butter, sugar and salt in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa into butter mixture and blend just until mixture forms a soft dough.
  3. Divide dough in half and place each half in between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll the dough out to roughly 1/8″. Chill dough, uncovered, until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F while dough chills.

For the filling

  1. In a stand mixer or bowl, combine shortening, salt, peppermint and water.
  2. Mix on lowest speed with paddle attachment or handbeaters. As liquid gets incorporated into shortening, gradually increase speed until creamy and combined (if you start off at a high speed, you’ll splash water and shortening everywhere–trust me on this one!).
  3. Reduce speed to low and gradually add 1/4 of the powdered sugar until incorporated (if you try to add it all at once, or if the mixer speed is too high, you’ll have powdered sugar all over your kitchen!).
  4. Slowly add the rest of the sugar, working in 4 additions. Taste test. The cream should be spreadable, but not too thin. If the mixture is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar and if it is too stiff, you can add more water.
  5. Remove one sheet of dough from the fridge. Cut circles with a 1″ – 1.5″ cookie cutter and place on cookie sheet. Bake shortbreads in middle of oven until centers are dry to the touch and edges are slightly darker, about 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool.

Assembling cookies
Once the cookie shells are cool, take one circle, pipe with a piping bag and #7 tip or spread it with a layer of peppermint filling and top with another shortbread circle. Continue assembling cookie sandwiches until you’ve used up all the shells. Roll frosted edges in crushed candy canes, if desired.

Be sure to check out Kelly Bakes for more recipe inspiration! You might also try her recipe for classic Raspberry Thumbprint cookies.

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