Considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage of the State of Pernambuco (Law 13751, April 2009), the top hat is one of the most traditional desserts in Pernambuco.
Originating in the houses where the mills’ owners lived, its recipe is a result of the mixture of ingredients, techniques and cultural habits of the Portuguese colonizers, the indigenous people who lived here and the African slaves, witnessing the mixing of the three main people who formed the culture of Northeast Brazil.
It is not possible to determine who invented it, or where or when it was first produced. It is likely that the name Top Hat is due to its high form, by the stacking of layers of banana and cheese, and its dark color due to the cinnamon.
Its ingredients are ripe bananas, preferably of the variety brought by the Portuguese from the Canary Islands -; the cheese from the interior (queijo do sertão), also known as butter cheese, made from clarified butter, much appreciated by the slaves, and known in Africa as ghee or butteroleo; sugar and cinnamon.
According to the researcher Maria Lecticia Monteiro Cavalcanti, the technique of sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon was first recorded in 1490, in Libro de arte coquinaria, by Martino Rossi, known as Maestro Martino, famous chef for the Duke of Milan and the Vatican. The gastronomic recipe below is also by the researcher.
two ripe bananas;one tablespoon of butter;
two thick slices of butter cheese;
a cup of granulated sugar;
two tablespoons of cinnamon.
- Fry the bananas in butter (the more ripe the best) until they are golden brown. Place in the dish in which they will be served.
- Melt the cheese on the fire (if necessary use a little milk). This cheese should completely cover the bananas.
- Mix sugar and cinnamon. Cover the cheese generously. So much so that there is a lot at the sides of the dish - since often you use this excess to smear the bite of this banana with cheese. Serve immediately.
Recife, 25 April 2012.
CARTOLA [foto de Gonzalo Parra]. Available at: <http://tastefood.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/cartola-internacional/>. Accessed: 23 abr. 2012. Photos in this text.
CARTOLA pernambucana, 2011. Available at: <http://nordestinosnacozinha.blogspot.com/2010/02/cartola-pernambucana.html>. Accessed: 24 abr. 2012.
CAVALCANTI, Lectícia. A famosa e popular cartola. Terra Magazine, 2007. Available at: <http://terramagazine.terra.com.br/interna/0,,OI1807858-EI6614,00.html>. Accessed: 25 abr. 2012.
CAVALCANTI, Maria Lecticia Monteiro. Histórias e sabores pernambucanos. Recife: Fundação Gilberto Freyre, 2009.
IGUARIAS da cozinha estadual recebem homenagem da Alepe. Publicado no Diário Oficial do Estado (D.O.E.) em 15/08/2009. Available at: <http://www.alepe.pe.gov.br/paginas/?id=3620&paginapai=3586&doc=E1EF9E67CC0600DB03257612005C7425>. Accessed: 25 abr. 2012.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Top Hat (cooking). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 August. 2009.