If you grew up in Nigeria, your teeth and jaws probably have memories of crunching up Chin Chin. It is one snack that you can eat bucket loads, without realising it. Children and Adults alike, love Chin Chin. There are two types, the soft crumbly and slightly crunchy one and the hard really crunchy and snappy type. Irrespective of which type it is Chin Chin is agreeable with everybody. Making chin chin is so tedious. It basically took a whole day and my mum always made sure we helped out. Can’t blame the woman. The speed in which the chin chin disappeared was not proportionate to the hours and hours it took to make, so my mum never made it often. If we cried about making it, she just said you know you will be helping out right? That stopped us from whining about it. Nevertheless, the process was fun and typing this right now, brings back memories of flour everywhere and I mean everywhere. From our clothes, to our hair, faces, arms, the kitchen floor, the kitchen counter, cupboards. It was as if a flour bomb went off. We needed proper scrubbing to get everything out. While we were younger, frying was the only part of the process she never allowed us do, but as I got older I was allowed to. In fact, I had a terribly traumatic experience from frying chin chin and the scars remained for years.
While I was dropping the chopped up dough into the hot oil, I wasn’t paying attention and I lowered my fingers straight into the hot oil. I screamed so loudly, gosh the pain, I can never forget. Till date, I shudder when I remember. The inexperience of the maid at home made it even worse. She applied butter immediately and that is a NO-NO for scalds. I was taken straight to the hospital and I remember the Doctor saying I had something similar to 2nd degree burns. People it was bad, and I mean bad. I cried and cried for hours, I had to be sedated. My four fingers from nail to knuckle got scalded and I had serious blisters afterwards. For days, I was miserable as hell. This was in my early teens and the next time we made chin chin at home, my mother took over the frying and said never again should anyone pour the dough into hot oil using their hands. Use a frying spoon. If you are making chin chin with your kids, never use your hands when frying, because they will repeat it when they make it by themselves. Heaven forbid, an accident occurs.
I haven’t made chin chin in close to 10 years, and the thought of frying in oil, which you mostly throw away afterwards didn’t sit right with me, plus all the stress. I have a bakery I buy it from. I take it to work sometimes and my boss absolutely loves it. She found the name hilarious at first, and couldn’t stop giggling. I pack in a Ziploc bag which she carries everywhere with her, crunching away. The next day she’ll ask “Dooney, do you still have more of that Chin Chin” (just imagine that in an English accent. Hehehehe). She has asked for the recipe, and has said she will try it out sometime because her boys and husband really like it. My other colleagues also love it, and because of chin chin, I have made them try out more Nigerian food. I was once asked why Nigerian food had lots of repeated words. Chin Chin, Dodo, Puff Puff. I have no answer. Hehehehe.
Why is this Chin Chin 2.0? I told myself, the next time I bring myself to make Chin Chin at home, it has to be totally out of the box, to make it worth the trouble. One of my Cooking Class students Deola asked me once if Cocoa powder would work, and I said I don’t know. Today, I decided to try it out, and I went further by adding Coffee liqeur just for added flavour. I also have a Coconut variety which I am yet to finish off.
You will need
1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder – if you want a more chocolatey flavour use 1 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
75g of Margarine or Baking fat
1/2 cup of sugar – more or less, depending on your preference
a pinch of salt
3/4 cups of cold milk
1 shot of Tia Maria – coffee liqueur
A splash of vanilla
If you don’t want alcohol in this but you want the coffee flavour, add 1/4 teaspoon of coffee to 1/4 cup of hot water, and then reduce the milk to 1/2 cup. Let the coffee get warm before you add to the dough.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: if you don’t have the standard baking cups but you do have a weighing scale, click on this link (HERE) to help you work out the grams conversion of all the ingredients listed. Once you are on the site, click on the ingredient you want to convert. e.g. flour, sugar, butter etc
1. Measure your self raising flour, cocoa powder and the rest of the dry ingredients. Don’t forget the baking powder. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: I used self raising flour because I wanted this to be my own recipe, and with my success with my meat pie crust which has gotten great reviews from many people, self raising flour is good for experimentation. Besides, I was trying Cocoa powder for the first time, and using a recipe which I can pick online won’t have worked, hence self raising flour and a teeny bit of baking powder just for luck. If you have plain flour at home, click HERE for how to make your own Self raising flour.
2. Once you have all the dry ingredients measured, add the margarine and work it through the flour until you have the consistency of bread crumbs.
Unfortunately I was on the phone with my mum at this point I forgot to take pictures. For the Coconut flavoured version I have step by step pictures of that.
3. Once the margarine has worked through the flour, add the wet ingredients in stages. Start with the egg and combine. The dough will form huge clumps, then add the milk slowly and work the dough gently between your hands until it all comes together, then you add the coffee liqueur (or coffee if you don’t want to use alcohol). You can also do this in a mixer or food processor with the dough blade attached. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: if you get the measurements wrong and the dough is too wet i.e. sticking to your hands, or it is watery, add more flour till you get proper dough consistency. If on the other hand, the dough is too hard, add cold milk a little at a time till the dough becomes soft and pliable
When you are done, the dough should look like this.
4. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes. It should come out looking smoother and less shiny.
Think Amala. hehehehehe.
5. Tear out a chunk of the dough and place onto a floured work surface. With your floured rolling pin, roll out the dough till it is thin. Map of Africa or South America, I can’t decide yet which one. Hehehehe.
6. Once it is thin, using a pizza cutter (a tip I picked up from someone on So You Think You Can Cook) or a knife to make lines horizontally and vertically. You can have fun with your dough by using fun shaped mini cookie cutters. It doesn’t have to be the traditional shape. Unfortunately, I don’t have cookie cutters at home, but I have ordered it.
7. Pick out the square pieces and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. I was given a tip on Facebook about baking chin chin instead of frying. Genius idea. You can fry it if you want, i just was in no mood to be frying. January Health Drive. Lol
8. Place the baking tray in the oven and set the temperature to 180 degree Celsius or 350 degree Fahrenheit and let it bake for 15 minutes. The aroma of the Cocoa and Coffee while it is baking is truly something special, especially if you use coffee liqueur.
When it is out of the oven, it should have risen a teeny bit, from the flat pieces you initially cut. Because this is baked and not fried, it would be a little dull in appearance.
7. To combat this, get out a pastry brush and brush the surface with a little oil. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: if you have cooking spray you can also use that, or you wait a bit for the pieces to cool down, drizzle oil over the pieces and combine with your hands. Put it back in the oven for another 3 – 5 minutes and you are done. If you think brushing it with oil is a little tedious, skip this step and leave in the oven for 18 minutes.
A little note of caution, when it is freshly out of the oven, the chin chin will be a little soft. Don’t panic. On exposure to air, and in a few minutes, it will harden and be crunchy and crumbly like the deep fried version. If after a few minutes, it is still soft, put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so. Some ovens are not as hot, but this baking method works with great results and crunchy chin chin, just don’t let it burn. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: remember unlike regular chin chin you will know when it starts to burn, this is already ark. You don’t want burnt chocolatey chin chin, which will be bitter.
Here’s the end result after the oiling. I think it looks better than the un-oiled version.
………..and that’s your Choco Chin Chin or Choffee Chin Chin. Lol
WARNING!!! This is seriously addictive.
If we can have Chocolate cookies, I guess no harm in having Chocolatey Chin Chin
Stay tuned for my Coconut flavoured version. It has a little something extra you would not be expecting.