Baked Vs Fried Chin-Chin

Baked Vs Fried Chin-chin

My post I Baked My Chin-Chin last year was one of the most popular and is still quite popular even now. I suppose because chin-chin is a really popular Nigerian snack and an all time favourite for people of all ages.  But because of health concerns that may arise from frying, people are looking for something different and/or a healthier alternative....but can there really be a healthier version of chin-chin?

Chin-chin is made from some or all of these ingredients
  • Plain flour
  • Sugar
  • Shortening (usually margarine)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Flavourings
Just from the nutritional profile of these individual ingredients, one can see why some people have concerns and hence the search for alternatives.

I always advocate the research of food ingredients to gain a good understanding of their nutritional profile so this can help with making decisions on what to use and quantities to use.

To see what can be done regarding cutting down calories of chin-chin and making it a somewhat healthier snack, I decided to alter ingredients and method of cooking it. I baked some and fried some....

Here is what I did:
  1. I still used plain flour though I was tempted to use whole mill flour to get some fibre in the chin-chin...maybe next time. 
  2. Instead of white processed sugar, I used demerara sugar and used less of it. 
  3. I swapped margarine with coconut oil. I never use margarine any more in my cooking....its trans-fat and I think you should stop using it too. Coconut oil is a very capable and healthier alternative.
  4. I used condensed milk for added sweetness
  5. I also used flavourings of choice and eggs.
  6. I made the chin-chin dough and rolled it out thinly (about the thickness of a fifty pence coin). I figured this will enable the chin-chin to cook quickly and spend less time in the oil.
  7. I had a bit of fun cutting the chi-chin dough into shapes using a biscuit/cookie cutter.
  8. I  divided the cut out chin-chin shapes into three batches, one fried, another batch baked without an oil wash and the last batch baked with oil wash.
  9. I also used coconut oil for frying and for the oil wash

Here is the verdict:

Appearance
Deep Fried
Baked with oil wash
Baked without oil wash

The deep fried batch had a really attractive golden brown colour. They however did not retain their flat star shape, with some appearing slightly concave. The oil washed baked batch turned out pretty good too with a nice brown colour. They retained their flat shape. The batch without the oil wash turned out pale, with the dusted flour still visible. They also appeared to have some "dimples" on them...

Texture
They all had a crunchy texture but the baked batches were drier and harder to crunch, with the batch without the oil wash being the hardest.

Taste
The fried batch came tops in the taste test. They were just more moreish and felt easier to chew and swallow. Next in the taste test was the baked and oil washed batch. The baked and without oil wash batch also tasted good.

Calorie count
The fried batch was highest in calories due to the fat used for deep frying. The baked batches were only slightly lower in calories. So oil does increase the calorie count considerably. the more oil used the higher the calories. This is also true for the sugar added. More sugar equal more calories!

My conclusion
If you are a health freak, chin-chin should not be your first choice for snack (or at best, eat moderate portions)...just like biscuits, it's a bit of a myth to say that chin-chin could be made in an entirely healthy way. The flour, sugar and oil used in making it pack so much calories!!!

The fried and the oil washed batches turned out really good and gave acceptable results. My personal preference is the oil washed baked batch. It is clear that oil contributes "something" towards taste and texture development in the chin-chin and it also helps to create a more visually attractive outcome.

Baking the chin-chin as opposed to frying posed less hassle. There is no need to drain the fried chin-chin and also no risks of burning yourself making it a safe way to cook especially when cooking with children.


My advice therefore:
  1. Eat chin-chin in moderation!!! Watch your portions and frequency of eating chin-chin
  2. Bake rather than fry your chin-chin
  3. Never include margarine in your recipe instead select a healthy oil (in this case coconut oil) to use in your recipe
  4. Choose a more natural sweetener and cut down on quantity used. 
  5. Rather than eat them on their own, include them instead into your other dishes like desserts, puddings etc.

Get the full baked chin-chin recipe here.





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