But when a puddle jump to the islands isn't possible, Ripert evokes the tropics with this special coconut cookie recipe.
"These cookies remind me of my long love affair with the island of Puerto Rico, where I've visited at least once a year for the past 30 years," he says.
It's a momentary break from the frenzy of the holidays, and, as a bonus, it tastes great. "I love the sweetness of this cookie. It has a good texture and really carries the subtle flavor and scent of the coconut."
This recipe makes enough for four generous gifts or eight smaller packages. The rich, buttery flavor of the thin cookies makes it impossible to eat just one.
Coconut CookiesMakes 8 dozen cookies
1½ cups softened butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups shredded coconut
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Beat butter, light brown sugar and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed, 1 to 2 minutes, until creamy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and coconut, mixing until blended.
3. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to coconut mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.
4. Cover and chill dough at least for 1 hour.
5. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls two inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325ºF, 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and let stand 1 minute before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
7. Dust with powdered sugar.