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Goat's milk panna cotta at Whaley's. (Image: Rey Lopez)

9 spring desserts to try right now

After a long winter of waiting of waiting for fresh, juicy produce, we’re finally seeing plenty of spring berries and colorful desserts that celebrate what a little sun can do. But like spring in the mid-Atlantic, these desserts are fleeting — try these 9 awesome offerings while the gettin’s good.

Goat's Milk Panna Cotta at Whaley’s

This simple yet refreshing dessert features goat milk steeped with cardamom and vanilla that’s then made into a panna cotta, which is a thick and creamy chilled Italian dessert. It’s then topped with fresh strawberries and toasted pistachios that add spring color plus flavor and texture, of course.

Berry & Almond Tartlet at Casolare and Alta Strada

Alex Levin, the award-winning pastry chef who made a name for himself at Osteria Morini before moving over to Michael Schlow’s restaurants, is putting his stamp on the restaurant group’s dessert menu this season. His berry-almond tartlet loaded with blueberries and blackberries sits atop a sweet almond crust and is served warm with vanilla gelato.

Cream Cheese Cake with Blueberries and Pistachio at Restaurant Eve

Of course the kitchen makes the cheese that goes into this colorful dessert featuring preserved local blueberries, a pistachio dacquoise and wood sorrel from the restaurant’s garden. Pastry chef Josh Jarvis was aiming for a lighter and updated version of the classic New York cheesecake, which will likely feature different fruits as the season progresses.

Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart at Blue Duck Tavern

Pastry chef Erin Reed added this springtime stunner to the menu to honor one of her favorite flavor combinations — lemons and blueberries. She also appreciates Meyer lemons for their bold fragrance and sweeter flavor. For this dish, she tops the tart with pickled blueberries, lavender whipped ganache and a wild blueberry sorbet.

Yogurt & White Chocolate Sphere at Siren

Made entirely from scratch using mainly local ingredients, this light and airy dessert stars glazed yogurt and white chocolate mousse accented with almond, shortbread and white chocolate crust, blackberry sorbet and lime gel. The restaurant started serving guests in April, and this sweet ender was crafted by pastry chef Shaun McCarty for its opening menu.

Funfetti Cake at Fare Well

Okay, there’s no actual evidence of spring in this dessert except that it would be perfect for a spring or summer party — and if you’re at all skeptical of baker and owner Doron Petersan’s vegan desserts, well, that’s just more for us. They’re amazing. (She is a two-time winner of The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, after all.) This new vanilla cake studded with sprinkles and topped with vanilla frosting, more sprinkles and cookie dough is available by the slice or a 6- or 9-inch whole cake.

Rhubarb Vacherin at Kingbird Restaurant

You might think The Watergate Hotel is only for the insanely wealthy, but you’re not a true Washingtonian till you’ve gone in and taken a gander at the city’s most notorious property. Why not use dessert as an excuse? Order this dessert of vanilla and green rhubarb ice cream accented with an egg white crumbles, rhubarb sorbet, rhubarb compote and basil jelly. Order a glass of bubbly to go with it and pretend you’re a rockstar.

French Strawberry Shortcake at Convivial

True to chef Cedric Maupillier’s aim of blending his adopted homeland’s cuisine with his native French techniques, he crafted this Gallic take on an American classic. The dessert starts with a base of vanilla sponge cake that’s topped with whipped strawberry mousse, strawberry coulis, crème anglaise, fresh strawberries and edible flowers.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Baba at Woodward Table

Pastry chef Antonio Lisbino has his own way with spring’s most ubiquitous dessert pairing — strawberry and rhubarb. The centerpiece is a light baba savarin cake that soaks up the tart rhubarb-hibiscus broth. It’s all accented with sweet strawberry mousse, and a tableside pour of rum is an optional final step.

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