Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped dried cherries
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
White chocolate for decoration, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix instant espresso powder and water, and reserve. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add dark brown sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Add egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla extract and reserved espresso mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips.

Using a 1-inch scoop, drop cookie dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; because cookie is very dark, it's difficult to tell if they are overbaked. Watch center of cookies; when they lose their gooey quality, they are done. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, melt white chocolate in a microwave oven or using a double boiler over gently simmering water, and lightly drizzle over cookies.

2008 Winner: Faith Ford of Big Lake, Minnesota