Copacabanoffee

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At the copa, Copacabanoffee, bananas and toffee were always the fashion…

Copacabanoffee - an indulgent dessert inspired by the Barry Manilow song, Copacabana!

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Copacabana was first released by Barry Manilow in 1978 and was inspired (according to Wikipedia) by the Copacabana Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, where Manilow and Bruce Sussman discussed whether there had ever been a song called “Copacabana”.

At the copa… Copacabana
The hottest spot north of Havana

Discovering that no-one had worked it into a song title (although there was a Groucho Marx movie in 1947 which they conveniently overlooked), they went about writing it. But it wasn’t until 1985 before it appeared in a movie musical of the same name, starring Barry himself. The plot features Lola, (she was a showgirl), who is a contestant on a radio show along with Manilow’s character, Tony Starr.

And while she tried to be a star
Tony always tended bar
Across the crowded floor, they worked from eight til four
They were young and they had each other
Who could ask for more?

It seemed inevitable that a stage version was an absolute necessity, and debuted in Plymouth, England* in 1994, moving to the West End later that same year. The US had to wait a nail-bitingly long SIX years before it opened in Pittsburgh in 2000, and Sweden had to wait until 2005 for a translated stage version!!! I’m certain that there were many Swedes who turned to cooking during that long endurance test.

*Plymouth is a hitherto unrecognized hub of quality musical theatre in Great United Britainfordshire

OK so enough show talk. More food talk. And this is GOOD food talk because we are super grateful to Keith’s wife Gina for this Banoffee Pie recipe!

If you haven’t heard of Banoffee Pie before, it is an English dessert made from bananas, cream and toffee (the latter is made from boiling cans of condensed milk until they get thick and gooey), layered on a base of crumbled biscuits mixed with butter.

Crush the biscuits, I do this by putting a few at a time in a Ziploc bag and then rolling them with a rolling pin – it is better not to try to do too many at once and try to make sure you crush them fairly well and don’t leave big chunks. As for quantity it depends on the size of your tin. Measure by eye and look at the quantity of crush biscuits and aim for a covering of around ¼” thick on the bottom of the loose-bottomed pie tin. If you want extra crunch in the base, you could add a tablespoon or two of sugar to the biscuit crumbs.

Melt the butter and add it to the biscuits. In terms of how much butter, it is recommended to melt a little at a time as you want the biscuits to look slightly wet when you have mixed in the butter but not saturated; all the butter should be absorbed by the biscuits. No more than a stick of butter for an average sized base. When you think you have enough butter mixed into your biscuits, transfer the mixture into your tin and use a metal spoon to spread out and compact the base into a consistent smooth layer on the bottom of the tin. Put it in the fridge to set while you make the caramel.

Pull the labels off the tins of condensed milk and throw away, then put the tins (unopened) in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to the boil with a lid on and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least an hour. The tins may jump around a little and rattle. Every now and then check that you still have plenty of water and if the level drops significantly fill it up again so the tin(s) are covered. For an average size banoffee pie you’ll need 1-2 tins, depending on how much caramel you like. And bear in mind how many bananas you are using: if you have a lot of bananas you will need more caramel to make sure they are covered.

When the tins have been boiling for around 50 mins, peel and slice the bananas to about ¼” thickness. Arrange them in the tin on top of the chilled base by carefully layering them in a full bottom layer and then overlap some more on another layer. For most size tins this will normally take 3-4 bananas.

By this point it is likely that the milk will have been boiling for over one hour. To open the cans, tip away some of the water so that the top of the tins are out of the water and then pick them up using an oven glove or kitchen paper – they will be hot! Leave the tin that you are not opening in the warm water so the caramel stays liquid. Put the hot tin on something heat proof like a plate, dry off any water and then carefully puncture the tin with a tin opener. Try to do this slowly so that the pressure from inside the tin is released: sometimes a little of the caramel will leak out or squirt out so be prepared!

Remove the lid and then pick up the tin with kitchen paper (as it inevitably gets caramel on it but it is too hot to hold), then pour the caramel on top of the bananas. Repeat for as many tins as you have. Smooth out the caramel and try to make sure it goes in to the gaps as much as possible as the key is to try to cover all of the banana so that it does not go black. Bang the tin on a surface to try to get any air bubbles out, then put it in the fridge to cool.

When the caramel is cold, whip the heavy cream until it is stiff and then put this on top of the caramel. It is important that the caramel is cold otherwise the whipped cream will melt. Again, add as much cream as you like and smooth it out so that it looks neat.

An optional garnish is to grate a little chocolate over the top of the cream to make it look nice. Keep this copacabanoffee pie in the fridge until you have musical theatre friends round who will appreciate it.

Copacabanoffee - an indulgent dessert inspired by the Barry Manilow song, Copacabana!

 

Copacabanoffee
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Ingredients

  • Biscuits/cookies, eg digestives (UK) or Graham Crackers (US)
  • Butter
  • 1-2 tbs granulated sugar (optional)
  • 1-2 Tin(s)/Can(s) of condensed milk
  • 3-4 bananas (preferably ripe but not going brown)
  • Heavy cream/Double cream
  • Milk or dark chocolate to decorate (optional)

Instructions

  1. Crush the biscuits into crumbs. Aim to have enough to cover around ¼" thick on the bottom of the tin. Add the sugar if using.
  2. Melt a little butter and add it to the biscuit crumbs. Keep adding more butter until the biscuits look slightly wet but not saturated.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a loose bottomed tin and use a metal spoon to spread out and compact the base into a consistent smooth layer on the bottom of the tin. Put the base in the fridge to set while you make the caramel. If you are making your base out of Graham Crackers rather than digestive biscuits, you may want to bake the base for around 7 mins at 375f to crisp it up.
  4. Pull the labels off the tins of condensed milk and throw away. Put the tins (unopened) in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to the boil with a lid on and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least an hour. Add more water if necessary as the milk cooks.
  5. When the tins have been boiling for around 50 mins, peel and slice the bananas. Arrange them on top of the chilled base in two layers.
  6. To open the cans, tip away some of the water so that the top of the tins are out of the water and then pick them up using an oven glove as they will be hot. Carefully puncture the tin with a tin opener. Remove the lid and then carefully pour the caramel on top of the bananas, repeating for as many tins as you have.
  7. Smooth out the caramel, ensuring that all the bananas are completely covered.
  8. Put it in the fridge to cool.
  9. When the caramel is cold whip the heavy/double cream until it is stiff and then put this on top of the caramel.
  10. Grate a little chocolate (if using) over the top of the cream, then return it to the fridge until required.
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Copacabanoffee - an indulgent dessert inspired by the Barry Manilow song, Copacabana!

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