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Feliz Navidad con Coyotas

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Cookies, pastries and other desserts seem to crop up every winter at parties in pans brought over by neighbors, wishing “happy holidays.”

The holidays are a time where authentic recipes from all types of cultures seem to bring about holiday cheer.

Individual families and cultures celebrate the holidays in different ways. For many Hispanics, particularly Mexican-Americans, this means eating tamales on Christmas Eve, while others make different family favorites.

One of the dessert recipes my mother dug up from her stash of authentic Mexican recipes is for coyotas. The recipe calls for just a few ingredients and is fairly quick to whip up.

Coyotas are pastries filled with panocha, a type of sugar cane that resembles the flavor of brown sugar. Sometimes it is also called piloncillo or panela. This recipe really allows the flavor of panocha to come through in the culinary experience.

Panocha is found in the produce section of most food markets, particularly those that cater to Hispanic communities, like Food City in the Southern Arizona area, or Fiesta in the region of Texas. It is usually sold in a brick that can be crushed using a sharp knife, a soup can, or in my case, a rock I found on my patio.

To crush it without using a knife, I suggest putting the brick of panocha in a fairly sturdy plastic baggie.

Once the panocha is crumbled, try my mom’s recipe for coyotas.


2 ½ cups crushed panocha (or brown sugar)
3 cups flour
½ tablespoon salt
½ cup shortening
¾ cup of cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine and mix dry ingredients (flour and salt)
3. Cut in the shortening, using either a fork or a knife. Cutting in the shortening means using a utensil and dropping the ingredient into the bowl in parts. This makes it easier to mix and assures it doesn’t end up making a huge ball of shortening with the flour.
4. Slowly add water to the mixture, using a small amount at a time. Knead the dough together with your hands.
5. When the dough is fully mixed, divide it into 20 balls, each about the size of a golf ball.
6. Create a surface to work on, and cover that area with flour. Roll each ball of dough out with a rolling pin to where it makes about a 5-inch diameter circle. Ten of these pieces of dough will function as the base of the coyotas, and ten of them will function as the top layer.

Each circular piece of dough will be covered with sugar and closed with another piece of dough, like an empanada, so try to make the pieces about the same size.

7. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of panocha (or brown sugar) on top of the 10 bottom pieces of dough. (This step can also be done to complete each coyota one-by-one)

8. Wet the edges of the base circular piece of dough with water. Then, place one of the top pieces of dough over the sugar covered base. Seal the edges of the pastry.

9. Place the coyotas on a lightly greased pan and bake for 15 minutes or until golden-brown.


Serving tip: Coyotas are best served warm or fresh out of the oven.


Written by Elyse Powers You are reading Feliz Navidad con Coyotas articles

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