Geoffrey Zakarian: Wake Up Your Holiday Sweets With Espresso

Find Geoffrey Zakarian’s recipe for Espresso Cheesecake below and click here for his Espresso Biscotti recipe.

It is a well-known fact that adding flavors like vanilla, almond and coffee to desserts help to release other flavors. A bold flavor in its own right, espresso shouldn’t just be a part of your morning coffee routine. It should round out the night as well.

“I’ve had a 45-year-long love of all sorts of coffee, but espresso gets right to the point. It details all the qualities and rituals of coffee in one distinct package,” said Food Network chef and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian of the popular pick-me-up.

The coffee scene in America is changing to a more European style with the creation of Nespresso and cappuccino machines where people are starting to take their coffee more seriously, and Zakarian agrees that it is going in a good direction.

“Even the basic overkill of single serving machines and those like it, it all signifies that type of coffee,” he said. “However, espresso and the culture that goes with it is here to stay. The progress of bringing the European example of coffee to America is an astounding movement.”

Zakarian’s cookbook, My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients, shows at home cooks how to utilize the ingredients in their pantry to jumpstart any meal. There are two recipes in the book that feature espresso, the Espresso Biscotti and Espresso Cheesecake, a bold flavor that the chef loves to use in the kitchen.

Check out Geoffrey Zakarian’s Espresso Biscotti recipe

“The Diplomat Beach Resort gave us the opportunity to serve a 1,100 room hotel with quality coffee and snacks, and thus Counter Point was born,” he said of the quick-serve café and retail shop in Florida. “I love ordering our iced red eyes as well as a double espresso.”

Back in New York and readying for the holiday season, Zakarian recently brought on Galen Zamarra as executive chef of The Lambs Club in Manhattan.

“He’s a true professional and so sophisticated. He understands the diner and then how to interpret dishes for them,” said Zakarian of his new hire. “We are so excited for him and the new menu. His bone marrow and quail are incredible new items.”

Add Geoffrey Zakarian’s Espresso Cheesecake to your holiday table this season and keep the fun going long into the night.

Espresso Cheesecake

Serves 8

This cheesecake has a double shot of espresso flavor, in the crust and the filling, and the slight bitterness of the espresso cuts the rich creaminess of the cheese. For a smooth cheesecake with no lumps, it is very important to have the cream cheese at room temperature, so be sure to remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator one hour before you begin. This cheesecake can be made (and refrigerated) up to two days ahead of time.


10 to 12 Espresso Biscotti or chocolate biscotti (store-bought is fine)
5 Tbsp melted unsalted butter


4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
5 tsp instant espresso
1½ pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind the biscotti to crumbs, making enough to measure 1 ½ cups of crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and mix in the melted butter. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until the crust is set, about 15 minutes. Cool completely and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

2. To make the cheesecake: Set a metal bowl over a pan with 1 inch of simmering water. Add the chocolate and heavy cream and let the chocolate melt. When melted, stir in the espresso and let cool until just warm to the touch.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on high, scraping the bowl in between additions. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and beat on high until perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust. Bake until the cheesecake is set (the very center will be just a little bit jiggly), about 1 hour. Cool completely and then refrigerate until chilled before removing the ring of the pan.


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