Valentine's day inspires a lot of mixed emotions in different people. Those who sarcastically celebrate SAD (single's awareness day) risk being branded as bitter singles, while those who buy into the chocolates and roses are accused of confusing love with commercialism.

    My solution is this: rather than buy things for Valentine's day or try to ignore the holiday altogether, I bake. This year I made black and white cookies, adapting a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Although they are not traditionally a romantic dessert, I thought they captured the light side and the dark side of Valentine's day rather sweetly.

*makes about 20 medium-large cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, slightly less than full
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest (the original recipe calls for 1/8 tsp lemon extract, but I didn't have any)
2+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

For the glaze:
2+1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

To make cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add milk and eggs, and whisk thoroughly to combine. Stir in vanilla and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add this to the wet ingredients and mix until the flour is fully incorporated. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges of the cookies brown slightly. Cool before frosting.

To make icing: Pour powdered sugar into a large bowl, and add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the powdered sugar is moistened enough to make a spreadable icing. Ice half of each cookie on the flat side with this white icing. Then, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or a double boiler, and add the melted chocolate to the remaining icing. Stir it in, and add the cocoa powder for a deeper chocolate flavor and a darker color. Now ice the blank half of each cookie. Let the icing set at room temperature for a few minutes before eating.