When my two teenage sons were watching the film about fake Kazakh Borat – alternatively rolling from the sofa laughing and cringing from horror – I promised to bake them a proper Kazakh cookie. Chakchak is originally a recipe from the kitchen of the nomadic Tatars and was only baked for special occasions. It was offered to visitors who had travelled far over the steppes or served at weddings and special celebrations. Chakchak is now still one of the most popular sweet snacks in Kazakhstan and can be bought ready made in supermarkets. The simple dough is always more or less the same, but it can be formed into little balls, strips or rolls. After the dough is fried until it is crunchy it is mixed with a sugary honey syrup. Then it has to be formed quickly into a big dome, little balls or little squares. You really need heat proof hands for this! Chakchak stays fresh and crispy for a very long time and it is very tempting to pick off little pieces. As Borat would say: ‘very nice, high five!’ – And that is the most innocent quote I could find….. If you like this cookie try my variation poppyseed chakchak.
Chakchak cookie from Kazakhstan
voor ca. 20 koekjes
170 grams (¾ cup) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vodka
75 grams (¾ cup) walnut halves
oil for deep frying
for the syrup
100 grams (½ cup) sugar
100 gram (½ cup) honey
In a bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Add the eggs and the vodka and knead into a smooth ball of dough.
Cover with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for about 30 mins.
Heat the sugar and the honey and leave to boil for about 5 mins. or until the color of the syrup becomes darker.
Roll out the dough until very thin and cut into thin strips of about 4 cm/2½ inches. Cut in two.
Heat the oil in a wide pan. When a piece of dough starts bubbling straight away and rises to the surface immediately the oil is hot enough for frying.
In batches, fry the dough for a few minutes until golden brown.
Take from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towels. Chop the walnuts.
Put the fried pieces of dough into a large bowl and pour over the boiling syrup. Mix well with a wooden spoon or with damp hands. Be careful, the syrup is very hot!
Make little piles and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Leave to cool completely.
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