Tiffany MacIsaac, a two time James Beard semi-finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, has her hand in pastries all over D.C. In addition to being the pastry chef for the ever popular Birch & Barley, MacIsaac oversees all of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group's dessert programs from baked goods at Buzz Bakery to baguettes and buns for the new Red Apron sandwich shops to doughnuts for the upcoming fried chicken and doughnuts shop, GBD. Despite the breadth of her repertoire, Birch & Barley is home base for MacIsaac. There, MacIsaac has the freedom to experiment with innovative desserts and more artful presentation than at her other restaurants.
We had a chance to go behind the scenes with MacIsaac and walk through her process of crafting a recent addition to Birch & Barley's dessert menu: an "Opera" Terrine. A layered French cake of flourless chocolate cake, hazelnut praline, espresso butter cream, and white chocolate mousse. The cake is constructed so each layer is softer than the one below it for an effortless slice. Topped with white chocolate dust, cocoa nibs, and red currant circles, MacIsaac creates a minimal, almost cubist presentation of distinct shapes and lines. To see how MacIsaac puts the plate together, click through to the slideshow above.