Lovebirds & Valentine’s Cookies

Lovebirds & Valentine’s Cookies

I wish I had a photo of the lovebirds who visit our palm tree. They are tiny, multi-hued, and sweet. They seem friendly with the pigeons but flit off when a big black crow alights.

February is when the rosy-faced lovebird starts to gather material for its nest. The birds carry leaves and other bits of vegetation in their tail feathers, which seems an intelligent method of transportation. They love to nest in the fronds of palm trees and the holes in giant saguaros.

It is thought that these African natives (Agapornis roseicollis) first established breeding colonies in the East Valley in the mid-1980s. They were escapee pet birds. The dry climate suits them and they are believed to be the only feral population of these birds in the United States.

Lovebirds got their name because they are monogamous. I have seen them in pairs perched on telephone wires, deep in conversation.

Like most birds, they eat fruit and seeds. They would not appreciate the chocolate vanilla swirl cookies I made for a Valentine’s Brunch last weekend. These were an experiment. I adapted a recipe that called for pink swirls. Using food coloring in the dough did not appeal., but I liked the symbolism of the swirl for that heady feeling of new love. So, I kept the recipe but switched the color to chocolate. These cookies contain no eggs.

The verdict on these cookies: Delicious!

Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Cookies

 Ingredients

Mix the ingredients for the vanilla and chocolate dough separately in two large mixing bowls.

For the vanilla dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour. Use a sturdy flour like King Arthur.

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/3 cup powdered sugar

10 oz butter (1 stick plus 2tbs)

1 tsp vanilla

For the chocolate dough:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup chocolate powder or cocoa

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/3 cup powdered sugar

10 oz butter (1 stick plus 2 tbs)

1 tbsp cold brewed coffee

 I put water in a small bowl and a pastry brush.

Sprinkles:

Chocolate sprinkles are optional. Make sure you buy a container big enough to be generous with the sprinkles if using.

Directions

Start with the vanilla dough.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients to aerate, then add the butter, chopped in small pieces. Using a hand or stand mixer, blend the butter into the dry ingredients. When the mixture is about to form a mass, add the vanilla and blend everything.

Set aside.

For the chocolate dough, follow the same directions in a separate bowl until the dough is about to form a solid mass. Add the tsp of coffee and blend till mixed.

You will now have two balls of dough.

I love using wax paper! The beauty of this old-fashioned product is that you can see through it, and it does not stick to dough.

Take two sheets of wax paper and between each sheet, roll your ball of vanilla dough out to a rectangle about 11 inches long and 9 inches wide.

Remove the dough, still between the waxed paper sheets, to a cookie sheet that will fit into the refrigerator. c

Follow the same procedure for the chocolate dough.

Lift the chocolate dough, between its waxed paper sheets, onto the vanilla dough.

Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill.

When ready to proceed with the recipe, take the cookie sheet and its dough from the fridge and place it on the counter about ten minutes before you start rolling.

The key to rolling this cookie dough is to get it to the “Goldilocks” temperature. Not too chilled to roll, not too soft. If too cold or too warm the dough will fall apart.

While you are waiting, take another sheet of wax paper, lay it on the counter, and generously cover it with chocolate sprinkles.

When it is ready to roll, lift the chocolate dough, in its wax paper, up from the vanilla dough and lay it next to it on the counter.

Remove the top layer of wax paper from the vanilla dough. Dip the pastry brush in the water and brush it over the vanilla dough.

Now remove the top layer of wax paper from the chocolate dough and invert it over the vanilla dough so you have a dough stack or sandwich.

Press the two rectangles together along the sides. Trim the stacked dough with a knife so that the sides are even.

Working quickly, start to roll the long side of the dough sandwich into a cylinder. The wax paper on the underside of the vanilla dough should help you roll it, falling away as you roll.

Very carefully, pick up the cylinder and roll it in the sprinkles so the sausage shape is completely covered.

Now place the cylinder back on a wax-paper-covered cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this point.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Place the dough cylinder on a cutting board and with a very sharp knife cut it into slices ¼ inch thick.

Transfer each slice to the cookie sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the vanilla dough is light brown. I prefer my cookies crisp rather than soft, so left them in for 20 minutes, switching the placement of the cookie sheets in the oven halfway through.

Turn off the oven, remove the cookie sheets from the counter, and cool for ten minutes. With a spatula, lift each cookie onto a rack to finish cooling.

Makes 18 cookies.