Get a group of friends together and treat yourself to a photoworthy dessert that has been cool since before Instagram: baked Alaska. "Insane" milkshakes are trendy right now, but this standby pairs ice cream and meringue with old-fashioned showmanship. Who doesn't love watching as their dessert's lit up with rum?
Here are three great varieties to sample on days when it's too cold outside for ice cream but the perfect time for a special treat.
The only baked Alaska that's served in slices of these three that we tried, this version was the most intricate of the bunch. Each piece revealed stunning layers of hazelnut and vanilla ice creams and pear sorbet. The Swiss meringue tasted like charred marshmallow fluff. (That's a good thing.) The only drawback? The thin graham cracker biscuit didn't have much texture, which would have been a nice counter to the abundance of creaminess.
$18. 931 H St. NW. 202-695-7660.
This lobbyist-friendly watering hole is sumptuous and classic — much like its version of baked Alaska. The most traditional interpretation we sampled, this one had the best ratio of ice cream to cake, balancing the seasonal, made-in-house pumpkin spice ice cream with a thick slice of spongecake. (In the spring, the restaurant rolls out a cherry-blossom-inspired flavor.) This baked Alaska also had the most impressive flame: The ignited rum had been drizzled on the pyramidal shape generously. $11. 1201 F St. NW. 202-347-2277.
This Italian sibling of the baked Alaska, called a torta meringata, paired salted caramel with vanilla gelato inside a whimsical shape. Once lit, the meringue peaks looked like birthday cake — which is perhaps why this version is a popular choice for celebrations. Along with an attentive tableside presentation — complete with a chocolate drizzle after the flambé — this torta will score big with ice-cream fans: The cake at the bottom is practically nonexistent compared with the amount of ice cream. $23. 650 K St. NW. 202-204-4480.