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Sugar Plums Aside

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Sugar Plums Aside
Photos by Jonathan Timmes

FROM S’MORES TO CHEESECAKE, DC’S DESSERT MAVEN GIVES YOUR HOLIDAY TABLE SOMETHING TO EXCLAIM ABOUT (!)

As one of the most recognized and celebrated pastry chefs in the South, Tiffany MacIsaac shocked everyone—including herself—when she left her post with the Washington, DC-based Neighborhood Restaurant Group (the venerable team behind such wildly popular places as Birch & Barley and Bluejacket, among a dozen or so others) this past June after five successful years as executive pastry chef. Parting from what she labels a dream job, a place where they custom built her a fully outfitted-to-perfection kitchen and where she was able to exercise the full range of her confectionary talents by making everything from the most fussy of intricate desserts to the simplest “corner-store baked good,” of course raised the inevitable question: what irresistible opportunity would tempt this thirty-three-year-old sugar star away from such a great gig?

The answer is indicative of what makes her such a talented chef.

Much like how she tests and develops her recipes, she went with her gut. There was no shiny new offer on the table nor anything but gratitude and praise for the position she was leaving behind. “It was time to take a leap of faith, to do something on my own. My job was so wonderful—such a huge opportunity—but I was out of the kitchen so much and very busy in other capacities. I wanted to get back into the kitchen every day,” explains MacIsaac. Coming to that realization, MacIsaac took the leap and Buttercream Bakeshop was born. As the name implies, Buttercream is a cake-focused shop specializing in birthday, holiday, and special-occasion cakes. But Buttercream is not a one-trick pony: they also offer croissants and breakfast breads as well as a line of Mallomars and Ho Hos—reimagined and dressed up a bit, of course. The offerings showcase the range of MacIsaac’s talents and how she easily embraces both the serious and the whimsical; they will evolve depending on her inspirations. Now that she is back in the kitchen, running her own shop, she has renewed creative enthusiasm and is ready to present showstopping confections that are stand-alone special.

“I am excited about our desserts being the main focal point of the dining experience, not just the exclamation point on the experience.”

As for the recipes on the pages that follow, they too exemplify what Tiffany does best: melding the simple (no-cook Gingerbread RiceKrispies) with the more complex (multiple-step Figgy Toffee Pudding). And she was especially eager to develop holiday desserts. “People just bring it when it comes to holiday baking, and I wanted there to be something for everyone. I am so excited to be a part of this Thanksgiving feature because it is truly an honor for me to think that people would be baking my recipes at this special time of year.” MacIsaac may have been looking to get away from being the exclamation point on the dining experience, but rest assured that once everyone at your table tries her Figgy Toffee Pudding, you’ll all be exclaiming plenty.

Nutella Icebox Pie
Gingerbread Rice Krispies
Figgy Toffee Pudding
Pumpkin Layer Cake
Apple-Sweet Potato Cobbler

Mentioned in this post:
Jonathan Timmes, Tiffany MacIsaac