Ever since I can remember I’ve loved baking. Always. Since approximately the age of 11 years old I have been in charge of birthday cakes at home. My repertoire was limited yes, but very very good.
At the time I stuck to Argentinean classics: lemon meringue tart, Rogel - our version of millefuilles: 10 or 12 layers of thin crunchy crust filled with dulce de leche and covered in Italian meringue, strawberry tart, the “Bombe” – fudgy brownie, dulce de leche, Chantilly and Italian meringue, and finally the “Havannet”.
The Havannet has its own particular story. When I was little one of the best times was when my dad had to travel to Mar del Plata (a city on the sea coast, 4 hours away from Buenos Aires, where I used to live), or when we got to go there on vacation. Because in that glorious city lived the King of Alfajores: HAVANNA.
At the time Havanna was a store that made “alfajores” and a very special little pastry called “havannet”. These where little cones composed of a base of shortcrust pastry, dulce de leche and the whole thing was dipped in chocolate. Perfection really. And at the time, you could only buy them in Mar del Plata, nowhere else.
So you can imagine how happy a little girl could be when she would receive a box of alfajores and a box of havannets? The answer is over the moon! Plus it was a commodity, it happened rarely. I remember making them last as long as possible, or at least trying to. A treasure really.
Nowadays there’s a Havanna store almost on every other corner, so it’s not as exiting when you eat an “Alfajor Havana”; because they have first and last name.
Going back to havannet, someone decided to make it into a tart. A genius person I must say! So there are as many recipes for this dessert as there are bakers. I would like to share mine with you.
Over the years I’ve changed the crust recipe as many times as I have made this tart, but I think I have found "the one" now. I found it in Thomas Keller
’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
. It’s just perfect. However it is not in my opinion the key to success when preparing this deliciousness, the balance between the layers is! You want a thin crust, really thin a nice generous dulce de leche filling, and chocolate ganache to top it all off that should me as thick as the crust.
Finally, I gave our classical Havannet a slight twist: I replaced our dulce de leche, for salted caramel. It was a brilliant decision. Make it for yourself and tell me what do you think! I hope you’ll agree.
Makes 2 tarts of 20 cm in diameter
For the Almond Pate Sablée (Shortcrust Pastry)
From Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
All-purpose flour 375 g
Powdered sugar 46 g
Powdered Sugar 94 g
Almond Flour 47 g
Unsalted Butter 225 g
Vanilla Bean ½ u
Eggs 56 g
For the Salted Caramel
Makes the filling of one 20 cm tart
Water 45 ml
Sugar 200 g
Butter (or salted butter) 50 g
Cream (Liquid) 120 g
Vanilla Bean 1 u
Sugar 70 g
Salt or “Fleur de sel” 1 pinch (if you used salted butter then this is not necessary. I used fleur de sel)
For the Chocolate Ganache
Dark Chocolate (70%) 70 g
Cream 90 g
Butter 10 g
For the Almond Pate Sablée
If you are using a stand mixer:
In a bowl sift the flour and the small amount of powdered sugar.
Using the paddle attachment, bring the butter to a consistency of mayonnaise or “beurre pomade” to use French terminology. Dissolve the salt in the egg. Mix together the big amount of powdered sugar and the almond flour.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly. You can learn how to scrape a vanilla bean by watching this video:
Add the powdered sugar mixture to the butter and mix it together at a low speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Incorporate the egg and 1/3 of the flour & powdered sugar mixture. Mix together. Make sure to scrape de bottom of your bowl!!
Finally add the 2/3 of the flour & powdered sugar mixture, mix until it’s incorporated into the batter. You shouldn’t mix very long (about 30/45 seconds). We want to prevent the activation of the gluten in the flour, because we don’t want the dough to become elastic! (It will shrink when in the oven!).
Form a rectangle of about 2 cm tall (it’s easier to roll it out after); wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can do it the day before, even better!
Also you can portion the dough in 3 equal parts, it should be enough for 3 tarts of 18 cm in diameter. If you are only going to make one, you can freeze the rest of the portions for up to a month! So you make a big batch and work less the next time you want to make a great dessert.
Before using the frozen dough let it defreeze overnight in the fridge.
If you are using your hands:
In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, almond flour, powdered sugar) and the vanilla seeds. Add the butter (cold cold) cut into small cubes.
Using your fingertips, break down the butter, until you obtain a sandy, grainy consistency. There should be pieces of butter still visible, and the color of the dry ingredients has changed towards a more yellowy tone.
Add the egg and mix using one finger.
You can watch the video of how to make “pate sablée”. Even though it is not the same recipe on the video, it is still the same technique. So it might be useful. If not, instructions follow!
Transfer the dough onto your working surface and using the palm of your hand to smear the dough and obtain a homogenous mixture. (The technical French term is “fraiser”). You can repeat the operation up to 3 or 4 times.
Form a rectangle of about 2 cm tall (it’s easier to roll it our after); wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can do it the day before, even better!
When you are ready to make the tart, butter your mold.
Pre-heat the oven to 170 Degrees Celscius.
Because this dough is very fragile I recommend you roll it out using parchment paper.
Roll out the sablee dough to about 0.3 mm. Line a 20 cm tart ring or mold.
Using your rolling pin tap down the dough to make it thinner and easier to manipulate, and then proceed to roll it out.
In order to prevent the crust from rising in the oven, line your tart dough with parchment paper and fill it with rice (beans can also do the trick, but they are more smelly!).
Blind bake in two times: 10 minutes with the rice, and 10 more minutes without the rice or the parchment paper, or until the crust is cooked and golden brown!
Transfer onto a cooling rack. While it cools down you can prepare the salted caramel.
Dice the butter and add the pinch of “fleur de sel” or salt.
Over a low heat warm the cream and sugar together.
Mix sugar and water in pot. Cook over high heat until the caramel starts to change its color to caramel color, and soon after that it starts to fume (you need to be paying attention, because it is a very light fume or semi-smoke). Whisk in the butter with the salt. Remove from the heat, and pour the hot cream into the caramel whisking at the same time.
Let the caramel sit for a few minutes, until there are no more bubbles.
Pour the caramel onto the cooled of tart crust leaving 2 mm to the border. We need place for the ganache!
Place in the fridge for about 2 hours - until the caramel has set and cooled down.
For the Chocolate Ganache
Cut the butter into cubes.
Cut the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.
Heat the cream (it doesn’t have to boil!), and pour it over the chocolate. Let it rest for about 3 minutes. Using a small whisk start stirring very slowly at the centre of the bowl. Once you notice that the color begins to change, meaning that the chocolate and cream are coming together nicely, you can speed up your movement!
The most important thing when making a ganache is: keep your whisk really perpendicular to the chocolate/cream mixture, and mix really slowly. This will result in a really smooth, free of bubbles, shinny ganache!
Add the butter and mix until combined.
While the ganache is still liquid pour onto the caramel tart and spread evenly over the surface. To do this pick up the tart with both hands and tilt it slightly so that the ganache evenly distributes over the tart. Use circular movements.
Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it has set.