Makes about 4 dozen.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. We prefer using instant espresso coffee (such as the Medaglia D'oro brand, available at most supermarkets) instead of instant coffee crystals. Our 2013 winning cookie is from Dianne Sivald of White Bear Lake, who adapted the recipe from "Cookies for Christmas" (Better Homes and Gardens Books).

For cookies:

• 2 c. flour

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

• 1 tbsp. instant coffee crystals (see Note)

• 1 tsp. water

• 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1/2 c. sugar

• 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

• 1 egg

For icing:

• 1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate pieces

• 3 tbsp. shortening


To prepare cookies: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon and salt, and reserve.

In a double-boiler over gently simmering water (or in a microwave oven), melt unsweetened chocolate. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a small bowl, combine coffee crystals and 1 teaspoon water, and stir until dissolved.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and brown sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add melted chocolate, coffee mixture and egg, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When dough is easy to handle, divide in half and shape into logs about 7 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Wrap dough logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap dough and, using a sharp knife, trim off uneven ends. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until edges are firm and lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare icing: In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in a microwave oven), melt semisweet chocolate and shortening, whisking to combine. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for a few minutes. Dip one half of each cookie into chocolate mixture, sliding the back of the cookie on the edge of the pan to remove excess chocolate. Place cookies on wax paper until chocolate sets.