HBK Incubates member ‘Yemsi Awosan, whose catering company Egunsifoods brings authentic West African flavors to the New York market, came to the United States from Nigeria at age 15. She grew up cooking with her mother, using the fresh produce they grew at home to create big meals for their community during celebratory occasions.
‘Yemsi shared the recipe for Chin Chin, a unique cookie that can be found at any Nigerian celebration. Though the heating method for this cookie may not be familiar to Western bakers, she says, it’s the method that was and is still used in West Africa, carried over from a time when most people did not have ovens in their kitchen. Chin Chin are common in most West African countries and there are different variations, ranging from the more common hard, crunchy variety to a savory version (served in Ghana), to a bright orange version, sold by street hawkers at bus depots. ’Yemsi likes her Chin Chin softer and doughier than the traditional version, so she adds baking powder.
Makes 4 cups
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
4 pinches salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 large egg
6 cups oil
1. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add margarine or butter and combine until crumbly.
2. In another bowl, add sugar and evaporated milk, stir, and set aside to let sugar dissolve.
3. Make a well in the flour mixture, add egg and evaporated milk mixture, combine, and roll dough into a ball.
4. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 2 minutes until very smooth. Then roll out to about 3/8-inch thick. Using a pastry cutter wheel or pizza cutter, cut dough into long 1/2-inch strips and then cut across to make 1/2-inch square shape. Sprinkle a little bit of flour and separate.
5. In a medium saucepan, heat oil to 360° F. Pour dough into heated oil and stir continuously with a slotted spoon, frying for 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown. Take out of oil and place on parchment paper or a paper towel. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.
You can eat Chin Chin plain—this is the way it’s eaten in Nigeria. For a more festive option, make long strips with a slightly twisted shape and dip in chocolate sauce to serve. Alternatively, store the square Chin Chin in a mason jar and tie it with a festive ribbon as a great gift option.
Images credit Egunsifoods