Finalist: Hot Cocoa Cookies

Baker: Macy Hennen of Pierz, Minn.

Instant hit: Hennen discovered the recipe online several years ago, although she can't recall the source. (We tracked a version of it to No matter, because Hot Cocoa Cookies quickly earned a cherished position in the Hennen household's annual all-family December Eve cook- and bake-a-thon. And not only because they taste great. "It's a fun recipe to make," Hennen wrote in her entry. "These cookies get everyone in the Christmas mood."

What the judges said: "Kids would like to make these," said one. "And eat these," followed another. "That extra chocolate under the marshmallow is a nice surprise," added a third.

Extra credit: A junior at Pierz Healy High School in Pierz, Minn., about two hours north of the Twin Cities, Hennen is the youngest finalist since the contest began in 2003. She submitted her recipe as part of a class project. "It was my teacher's suggestion," she said. That's the kind of homework assignment we can all get behind.

Work in progress: This is a deeply chocolaty cookie, incorporating almost four times as much chocolate as the familiar cookie it most closely resembles, the beloved chocolate crinkle (that's the dark, crinkle-topped cookie rolled in powdered sugar). Hennen's family has experimented with different chocolate varieties, and landed on semisweet as their favorite. We think a mix of bittersweet (chopped and melted for the dough) and semisweet (for the pieces under the marshmallow) is also a delicious combination.

Appearances sake: "I like how chewy and moist they are," Hennen said. "But I really like how each cookie kind of looks like a cup of hot chocolate."