A very dangerous cookie, this fried little morsel from Nigeria! The little cookies are usually flavored with just two simple ingredients – nutmeg and lemon zest – and they are extremely addictive. Somehow lemon and nutmeg is a winning combination in sweet pastry and because these cookies are so small and look so innocent you are tempted to pop one after the other in your mouth.
The chin chin cookie is eaten throughout West Africa on festive occasions, but cannot be missed during Christmas. The cookie is originally from Nigeria and, like all classics, almost every family has its own recipe. Some swear by super-crunchy chin chin cookies and do not use baking powder, others insist on a soft inside and crunchy crust. For some, using lemon is out of the question and there even are real die-hards who allow no seasoning in the dough at all. Chin chin is traditionally fried because many people had no oven in their house and this cooking method gives the cookie its nice crispiness. But no matter which chin chin type you choose, hide the cookie jar well. It is so tempting to quickly steal a little cookie each time you pass.
Chin chin cookie from Nigeria
for about 60 cookies
450 grams (3½ cups) flour (+ extra if needed)
175 grams (¾ cup) of sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder (leave this out if you want a completely crunchy cookie)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
75 grams (⅓ cup) butter
175 milliliters (¾ cup) evaporated milk (or use whole milk)
oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and lemon zest.
Add the butter and rub it in the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles very fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and milk and knead into a smooth dough. Add some extra flour if the dough is still sticky.
Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until 1 cm / ½ inch thick. Cut squares of ½ x ½ cm (¼ x ¼ inch) with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
Heat about 2-3 cm / 1 inch of oil to 180°C / 360°F in a deep pan. Fry about 8-10 pieces of dough at a time, stirring all the time so the cookies brown on all sides. They will be done in 4-6 min. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
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