NCC Culinary Students Compete in Holiday Cookie Baking Contest

Recipes included!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Imagine your favorite holiday cookie. Now try and picture it being made without flour, eggs, butter or milk!

Northampton Community College (NCC) culinary students didn’t have to imagine it. They had to do it, at a “Cookies and Cheer” vegan and gluten free holiday cookie competition sponsored by the Factory, The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and NCC. The event was held at the Factory on December 13.

The students were paired in teams of two and tasked with creating a vegan and gluten free cookie that evoked the holiday season and Bethlehem, aka Christmas City USA!

The teams and their entries were:

Gina Anderson and Rachael Muscler, snickerdoodle cookies
Erika Hoffman and Edilia Matias, coconut date macaroons
Tashina Mora and Justin Leak, red velvet vegan Christmas cookies

The winners are Erika Hoffman and Edilia Matias with their Coconut Date Macaroons

Judges included NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson and Danielle Konya, owner of Bethlehem’s Vegan Treats.

It was a difficult decision, but the judges named the coconut date macaroons, baked by Erika Hoffman and Edilia Matias, as the winner. The students received $1500 tuition credit for their next semester at NCC and $500 cash per team.

Winners Erika Hoffman and Edilia Matias, coconut date macaroons

Watch the 69 News report.

Make your own vegan and gluten free holiday cookie this season with the students’ recipes below!


Coconut Date Macaroons

Yield: 36 cookie servings


For date syrup:

6 oz pitted dates, quartered

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup agave nectar

6 Tbsp. dark brown sugar


For macaroons

8 cups sweetened coconut flakes

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. salt

1 ¼ cup date syrup


For candied nuts:

1/3 cup of water

7 oz chopped unsalted cashews

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup agave nectar


For chocolate drizzle:

5 oz Enjoy Life! vegan dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350


To make the date syrup: In a small saucepan add water, agave nectar, and dates and let boil together for 1 minute, add dark brown sugar, let simmer on medium heat for 18 minutes continuously stirring. Let mixture cool then blend in a blender. Set aside to cool.


To make the macaroons: Roughly chop coconut flakes, mix with vanilla, almond milk, salt and date syrup in a bowl. Scoop into 2 tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie tray with parchment. Bake for 14 minutes or until slightly browned on edges. Let cool.


To make the candied nuts: Toast cashews in oven at 350 for 6 min, then chop and set aside. Put water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add agave once its boiling and let boil for 1 minute, add brown sugar and let boil for 4 minutes while stirring until grains dissolve. Add chopped cashews, continue stirring for 2 minutes until evenly mixed. Let cool.


To make the chocolate: Fill a small saucepan halfway with water, bring to a boil then take off heat. Pour chocolate chips into a stainless-steel bowl and place on top of the saucepan to make a double boiler. Stir until the chocolate becomes smooth. Prepare a parchment piping bag and fill with the melted chocolate. Cut the tip and use the bag to drizzle over the cookies. Garnish the cookies with the candied nuts.



Snickerdoodle cookie

Yield: 3 dozen



1 cup soft butter (Earth Balance original buttery spread)

1 ½ cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons Egg replacer

6 Tablespoons water (slightly warm)

2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)

2 ¾ cups sifted flour (Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons baby food (Gerber Pear)


Coating for the cookie:

1/3 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar crystals

Mix together the egg replacer and water. Let sit while you get the other ingredients together. Cream together the butter, sugar, egg mixture and baby food thoroughly. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, salt, and cinnamon (if you don’t want more cinnamon, then leave this part out) into the cream mixture. Once all mixed, let chill for 30 minutes in freezer (for best results). Roll balls of dough to the size of a ping pong ball or 1 3/4 inches and place into cinnamon and sugar coating. Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake at 15 minutes or until golden brown at 350 degrees.


Red Velvet Vegan Christmas Cookies

Makes: 36 cookies



2 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill cup for cup flour

3 to 4 Tablespoons Cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 cup strawberry applesauce

½ bag Vegan Chocolate Chunks

5 to 7 drops red food coloring
½ cup powdered sugar (for sugar glaze)

Water as needed (for sugar glaze)

Pinch of green sprinkles (garnish)



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients. In a second mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet in ⅓ increments. Mix well.

Roll 1/2-inch diameter balls and place 2-inches apart on the cookie sheet (Mash them flat in your palm and add 2-3 chocolate bits in the middle).  Close the cookie around chocolate and roll back into a ball. Place on cookie sheet and press them down slightly (so cookie isn’t still a ball).

Bake for 12-15 minutes (remove them Just Before they start to brown on the edges). Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.

Use powdered sugar and water as needed to make a sugar glaze, whisk in water until you have a slurry consistency.

When cookies are cool brush on sugar glaze and sprinkle your green sprinkles, as light or heavy as you’d like.

Red Velvet Vegan Christmas Cookies