Christmas has come and gone, together with the snow.
I baked so many biscuits and pepparkakor. For a whole month I did nothing but bake and decorate. Boy, did it take time to neatly squeeze those lines. By the end my fingers were so cramped in the "squish" position that I had to use my other hand to prize my fingers off the little squeezy bottle. But it was all joy. Unlike last year when mum dropped a baking sheet with nearly all the pepparkakor stacked on there, all decorated and cute, on the floor, shattering them to a million pieces. Only few survived. I was a bit crushed because of all the hours that I had invested. Now, when I mentioned said incident before the holidays, she claimed to have no recollection of the matter.

The anno 2016 lot of Christmas biscuits was shipped out to the world to my dearest friends well before Christmas Eve and probably has been consumed by now.

Except for this small bunch of pepperkakor that still hangs by my window. It still smells like the holidays. I will probably keep it 'til it is all dusty, it looks too sweet, I don't want to break it. I'd rather just keep it until it becomes icky and then just throw it in the bin.

Orange and cardamom kringel, so so good! I think I ate half of it just by myself!

Besides all the gingerbreads and butter biscuits I also made florentines, just as on previous occasions, using my own recipe which can be found here.

About two dozens of extra fat and large ones. I love them.
Saaremaa Food Festival 2016 was held from 5th to 11th September.

Mosaiik Cafe lunch - chanterelles and pork cheek, apple and hazelnut dessert.

Mosaiik Cafe roast beef and mash ; Retro Cafe lamb burgers with mash, cabbage and chanterelles.
The lamb was underseasoned but their soup was super spicy.

La Perla chicken with apples, carrots and Cheddar.

GO Spa strawberry and rhubarb dessert.

Naturally, the festival ended with a day full of pop-up Apple cafes.
Originally, the idea behind it was for the locals to open up their garden gates and back yards for visitors, setting up outdoor cafes for a day, offering goodies baked/cooked using local apples.

The event is becoming more commercial with the participation fee shooting for the stars, it has gone from 5 euros three years ago to 32 euros this year. And the number of professional businesses participating is rising as well.

The weather was not too charming, there was some sort of mist coming down all day.
But still, I visited six cafes out of seventeen. Browsed by three more but didn't photograph.
Here are photos from the ones that caught my eye the most.

First cafe, Õunamaius, was close to home, just one block away. The choices here could make you blind! Literally too, as it was very brightly coloured. I bought little apple fritters, a slice of pastry cream torte, two slices of Swiss roll and meat pasties. All tasty. And I knew it would be as Luule is known for her baking.
Luule and Lea took part last year as well, see their apple trail here.

Next up was Akord. This took us to the other side of town. Area where I usually never go to.

I went to this place, Ladvaõun, with a mission. In the local newspaper they claimed they were serving Tarte Tatin. I definitely wanted to try it. I baked more than a dozen Tarte Tatins during the first day of Apple Cafes three years ago. Small ones like this and larger ones.
But this cake did not resemble the plump and buttery pastry I was expecting to see. I was confused.
Mission aborted.

Ristorante La Perla has been participating three years in a row. Their selection of goodies was almost as extensive as Luule's. I got a strawberry muffin with a burnt edge and a chicken salad sandwich. Too bad I didn't photograph the sandwich, it was really good, I would buy that again, many times over.

Next up was Saaremaakera with their wacky but awesome truck / pizza oven. They also had some doughnuts on the counter but I don't think anyone had eyes for them. There was this great cheesy pizza smell all over the yard. The menu, so to say, was scribbled on the back of a pizza box and that was it. 8 euros, four toppings of your choice.

Last place was a hole in the wall - Õunakoda. I had a chicken wrap there which was tasty. But the place was so windy and chilly. Otherwise I would've tried their pancakes.

Better luck with weather next year.

Gooseberry puddings

I think these have a bit of a vintage feel to them. I can imagine these being baked in an Edwardian kitchen or even in a big Victorian manor house. Of course there they would be baking them individually in little pudding basins and then carefully turning them out onto dainty plates to be served.

Gooseberry puddings

250g gooseberries
1 vanilla bean
5-7 cardamom pods
4 eggs
100g ground almonds
100g sugar
100g butter
2tbsp Cognac
120g cream cheese

Take a saucepan and a mixing bowl. Carefully halve the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and put them into the bowl, then toss the scraped bean into the saucepan.

Top and tail the gooseberries and add to the saucepan with the cardamom and a spoonful of sugar. Cook this over a low heat for about 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the berries soften a little but are still holding their shape. Set aside and let cool.

Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl, add the sugar and ground almonds and whisk through. Next, melt the butter and pour it into the batter while you keep whisking.

Add the Cognac and whisk until your batter seems smooth. Lastly, add the cream cheese and mix only a little.

Place a layer of gooseberries on the bottom of four ramekins or teacups and divide the batter among them. Scatter some more gooseberries on top and bake in a 180C oven for 30 minutes.