Smart cookies: UH-Hilo faculty, staff host semester-ending holiday celebration, bake-off

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Maria Vicente wins second place for her reindeer cookies Friday during University of Hawaii at Hilo's faculty and staff holiday celebration and cookie contest.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Judges, from left, Kalei Rapoza, Ken Hon and Farrah-Marie Gomes sample five different cookie entries Friday during University of Hawaii at Hilo's faculty and staff holiday celebration and cookie contest.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald From left, Huihui Kanehele-Mossman and Gail Makuakane-Lundin check out their photo booth picture with Maria Andaya on Friday during University of Hawaii at Hilo's faculty and staff holiday celebration and cookie contest.

There was stiff competition Friday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s faculty and staff cookie contest, but Maria Vicente wasn’t too worried.

The admissions staff member entered a tried-and-true oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe she often watched her dad bake while she was growing up.

And she kicked them up a notch: She swapped chocolate chips for raisins, tossed in coconuts and nuts and added M&M noses to the reindeer-shaped creations which she appropriately named “Rudolph Reindeer Delights.”

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“I decided to make them Christmasy,” Vicente said. “And I think they turned out fun.”

Vicente was one of five to enter the cookie contest, which was part of a 90-minute, end-of-fall semester holiday celebration for campus employees. The last day of classes is today. Finals are this week and commencement is Saturday.

“It’s a fun send-off to the semester,” said Lisa Spain, an event organizer and deputy director at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. “And it’s also just a fun day to get the faculty and staff together before commencement and the holidays.”

Several dozen employees attended the event in which they mingled, snapped pictures in a holiday-themed photo booth and most importantly, tested out cookies.

UH-Hilo vice chancellors were the official cookie contest judges. “Sarah Wants S’more” — a graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolate chip cookie — won first place. Vicente’s cookies garnered second.

Keith Edwards, a computer science faculty member, wore a holiday-themed UH-Hilo sweatshirt for the occasion. He said he most enjoyed Vicente’s Rudolph cookies because he found them “very clever.”

“They turned out very cool and I can tell someone really put a lot of thought into those,” Edwards said. “But I liked all the cookies.”

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“It’s just nice seeing the faculty and staff and getting to meet and chat with them in a very casual environment,” he added.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.