Chin chin – a popular fried dough snack in Nigeria – is one of those things I’ve been shoveling down since I was old enough to replace Cerelac with oxtail stew. And although in its original state it’s pretty darn satisfying, I’ve often felt that as great a snack as it is, there’s got to be something that can be done to boost its awesomeness. Now before I’m bashed from all sides by Chin Chin Anonymous, let me make this clear. I’m not saying that chin chin isn’t great. I’m simply trying to see if it can be greater.
So when I set off on my quest – yes, we’re calling it that now – to reinterpret the way we see chin chin, I considered several ways to make it that much sweeter, richer and even more appealing. There were a couple of cool ideas that I’ll be sharing with you later, but this particular one came when I thought about how much I love gnawing on a nice crunchy brittle. It only seemed natural that the two would work well together. So I looked at a few recipes – from aunts, books and the internet – and decided on the following result, with which I am well please.
Yields 8-10 servings (unless you’re the Michelin man)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
60g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2-2 ½ eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
170g corn syrup
110g chin chin
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.Mix together your dry chin chin ingredients – flour, sugar, salt and baking powder – in a large bowl. Cut in butter and mix until there are no clumps.
2.First add two beaten eggs and heavy cream to bowl and bring dough together. If dough still hasn’t come together, add half a beaten egg.
3. Knead dough on a flat surface until it’s smooth and homogenous. At this point you can form whichever little shapes you’d like (i.e. round, rectangular, square, etc.), but if you’re following the pictures, continue by sprinkling some bench flour on a surface to prevent dough from sticking and roll it out to about a ¼ inch thickness. Cut into 1-1 ½ inch wide rectangles.
4. Heat oil to a medium-high temperature of about 175°C (350°F). Test a few to make sure your chin chin cooks through and the temp is right, then fry the rest in batches until golden brown, straining on paper towels as they leave the oil. Let cool till they’re hard and set aside.
5. In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt and water and bring to boil until sugar dissolves. Be sure to occasionally stir to distribute heat. Add corn syrup (I couldn’t find corn syrup in my current location so I’ve gone without, as my pictures show, but do try to use if available) and cook until sugar reaches 118°C (235°F). You can use a candy thermometer to test this, or drop a piece into cold water, and it should form a soft ball.
6. At this point, add chin chin (I added nuts too because I have an addiction) and butter, and stir in well. Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda and vanilla.
7. Pour onto a baking sheet and with the back of a large spoon, spread into an even, thin layer. Let brittle cool completely before breaking into pieces.