What Are Coyotas?

Angela Farrer

Coyotas are a popular type of Mexican sugar cookie. The first recipes for them date back to the 19th century and coyotas are frequently thought to originate in a region of Mexico known as Sinaloa. Contemporary recipes for coyotas can often be found throughout Mexico and the southwestern United States. The typical batch of coyotas yields cookies that are larger and flatter than other kinds of sugar cookies, and they are traditionally flavored with brown, rather than white granulated, sugar. Coyotas can often be found in grocery store sections of traditional Mexican foods, or they can also easily be made at home from scratch.

Coyotas are typically thought to have originated in the Sinaloa region of Mexico.
Coyotas are typically thought to have originated in the Sinaloa region of Mexico.

The most common coyotas ingredients include all-purpose flour, salt, water, and shortening. Traditional recipes usually call for a specific type of Mexican brown sugar known as panela that is made from molasses cooked to the point of crystallization. Panela is usually sold in compact loaves that are designed to have a relatively long self life. Before this kind of sugar can be mixed with the rest of the cookie ingredients, it needs to be broken up into much smaller granules. Many bakers accomplish this step by placing each panela loaf in a large sealed plastic bag and tapping it firmly with a small hammer or meat-tenderizing mallet.

Many coyotas recipes require the use of leaf lard, although some cooks prefer to substitute vegetable shortening or margarine as an alternative with less saturated fat. Others like to mix in lard because it often results in sugar cookies with a richer texture. Once the flour and salt are blended together, small bits of shortening are then kneaded into the dry ingredients until the resulting dough reaches the needed consistency. Water is also usually added a bit at a time in order to prevent coyotas dough from becoming too thick.

Each sugar cookie in this dessert recipe is baked from a ball of dough that usually measures around 5 inches (about 12.7 cm) in diameter. Just prior to baking, a small handful of the crushed panela is placed into the center of each dough ball. As the coyotas bake in the oven, this type of brown sugar will liquefy and flavor the rest of each cookie. These types of cookies are normally baked for 15 minutes at about 375° F (roughly 190° C).

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