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  • Mary Kay

Christmas Kahlua Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake - Delicious for a Dinner Party

Who doesn't like coffee, with family and friends and a delicious chocolate Kahlua cheesecake, especially at Christmas time?


Serve this chocolate, espresso packed cheesecake at a delicious dinner party. Or, take some time for yourself and sneak a piece with a cup of how java. What a wonderful way to savor this special dessert…and relax.


Have patience. Yes, this takes a number of steps, but if you follow them closely, you’ll end up with one of the most delicious desserts you’ve ever tasted or served. Savor it slowly and deliciously.


If you think it’s a little too much decadence with all that chocolate, Kahlua and espresso inside, add some delicious whipped cream for garnish. Plus, it’s beautiful with a hand-piped white chocolate wreath on top.


This recipe will serve 8-12 depending on the size of the slices.


Prepare your pan:

-Choosing a 9” non-stick springform pan, lightly brush butter on the bottom and sides (even though it’s a non-stick pan). The butter will help the parchment paper adhere to the pan while you are pouring and spreading the crust and later when pouring the batter into the pan. After baking it will make the cheesecake easier to disengage from the bottom and the side of the pan.

-Cut a round piece of parchment paper to line the inside bottom of the pan.

-Cut one long or two long pieces of parchment paper to fit around the inside of the side of the pan. Cut the parchment paper so it’s 1-2” higher than the side of the pan.

-Fit all pieces together so they adhere to the inside of the pan. It’s okay for the side strips to overlap a bit.


Preheat the oven to 350F degrees for baking the crust and for baking the cheesecake.


Gather your Crust Ingredients:

1 T Espresso (try a flavor)

1 ½ Graham cracker, fine crumbs

2 T Cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 T Sugar

1/3 C Butter, melted 

Gather your cheesecake filling Ingredients:

10 C Chocolate chips, semi-sweet or dark chocolate, melted

24 oz Cream cheese, room temp, NOT the whipped kind

1 3/4 C Powdered sugar, sifted

2 T Cocoa powder, unsweetened, sifted

1 T Espresso powder (try a flavor)

4 T Kahlua

4 Eggs at room temperature


Gather up your Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

1 C Heavy Cream

8 oz Chocolate chips, semi-sweet or dark chocolate

1 t Espresso powder

Pinch of Salt


Wreath decoration:

¾ C Ghirardelli melting wafers, white

Small sealable zipper bag

Sugar candies – green holly leaves & red berries 

Begin with the chocolate crust:

-In a food processor, crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Feel free to use store bought graham cracker crumbs. Just make sure they are finely ground.

-Add the Espresso powder and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and pulse a couple times. You could use chocolate graham crackers, but I usually have regular graham crackers on hand so I use them with the unsweetened cocoa powder. If you are using chocolate graham crackers, you can delete half of the cocoa powder.

-NOTE: This recipe is not written for sandwich cookies.

-Add the melted butter and pulse so the crumbs begin to come together.

-Pour the crumb and butter mixture into the prepared pan.

-Press down all over the bottom, bringing the crumbs up about a ½” all around the sides. I use a flat-bottomed glass to press the crumbs evenly.

-Bake at 350F degrees for 8 minutes.

-Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack until your filling is ready to pour in.


Get your water bath pan ready:

-Have a large baking dish ready so you can place your foil wrapped springform pan with crust and batter inside the larger baking dish.

-I place the large baking dish into the heated oven and add about an inch of water. It’s easy to use something with a good spout like a metal pitcher or metal French Press in order to pour the hot water into the larger pan. Let it heat in the oven while you prepare the cheesecake filling. The hot moisture in the larger baking dish will help the cheesecake from cracking.


Wrap your springform pan with aluminum foil:

-You will want to wrap your springform pan in at least two layers of aluminum foil to avoid any water leaking into the cheesecake pan.

-Cut two large pieces and layer them so they crisscross each other.

-Set the pan in the center of the layered foil. Bring up the foil on all sides so that they can seal out any water from seeping inside the springform pan of cheesecake batter. If the foil sticks up above the top edge of the springform pan, roll it down to the top edge or cut it off at the top edge.

-Set aside until you are ready to fill it with the cheesecake batter. 

Mix up the cheesecake filling:

-Melt the chocolate chips according to package directions. I usually put them in microwave safe bowl and heat for 45-60 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Heat again for 15 second increments until smooth, stirring completely after each interval. -Mine usually is ready after a total of 75 seconds. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.

-NOTE: I like to make my own espresso powder by triple grinding my coffee beans. I only grind a few tablespoons at a time in order to keep the espresso fresh. I choose one of my favorite flavors to incorporate into this cheesecake – Vanilla Brulee or Hazelnut Vanilla.

-Beat in the sifted powdered sugar, sifted unsweetened cocoa powder and expresso powder until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides in order to incorporate all the ingredients except the eggs. Don’t overbeat.

-Beat in the eggs on low, one at a time, scraping the sides after each egg. Do not overbeat. Just beat until combined.

-Keeping the mixer on low, drizzle in the melted and cooled chocolate. You might need to zap the melted chocolate for 10 seconds in the microwave if it’s gotten too stiff. Beat until all is combined, scraping the sides a couple of times.

By this time your batter should smell very good with the chocolate, Kahlua and flavored espresso mixed in!

-Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the baked crust.

-Place your aluminum foil wrapped springform pan in a 3-4” deep baking dish that is larger than your springform pan. Place both pans into the preheated oven on the middle rack. Pour the boiled water into the baking dish, being careful not to spill any into the cheesecake springform pan or in between the layers of foil. Make sure the water level is BELOW all edges of the aluminum foil, so absolutely no water leaks into the cheesecake.

-Bake for 60-70 minutes at 350F degrees.

-I check the cheesecake at 55 minutes, then at 60 minutes. The cheesecake should be a little jiggly in the center. (It smells soooo good!)


Cool it:

-Do NOT take the cheesecake out of the springform pan, or even release the latch on the pan until the next day. It will need an overnight chill in the refrigerator.

-When you take the cheesecake out of the oven, set the foil wrapped springform pan on a rack for 45 minutes.

-Using a knife, run it around the inside of the pan to loosen it. It’s a good idea to do this before you refrigerator it. It makes for easier extraction from the springform pan.

-Unwrap the foil layers and allow the cheesecake (in the pan) to cool for at least another hour on the rack.

-When it’s not very warm, let it set in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight. I always let it set overnight in order to make sure the cheesecake had completely cooled all the way through. This also helps to make cleaner cuts when you are ready to serve.

-I let the cheesecake chill out in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Then it rests all night in the refrigerator. 

Easy Chocolate Ganache:

-NOTE: If I’m going to freeze my cheesecake, I do not cover it with chocolate ganache or decorate until the day before, or the morning of the day I plan to serve it. However, I do take it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnighy before covering with ganache or decorating. So, plan accordingly.

-Bring cream just to before boiling. Barely simmering. Done my overcook.Let cool 2 minutes.Pour over 9-10” cheesecake.Let drip down sides. You may need to encourage the drips by spreading with large off set spatula.Let the cheesecake cool again in the refrigerator. 

Make a special decoration – an elegant white wreath:

-Make a special decoration of your own design or just spray it with some fun whipped cream. While I think it’s best with real homemade whipped cream, it’s your choice.

-A white wreath with holly leaves and berries on top is simply an elegant decoration for the top of your decadent chocolate cheesecake. On a piece of paper, with a magic marker, draw or trace a circle the size of the wreath you’d like. You’ll want to make two circles, one smaller than and inside the larger one. The two circles will show how wide you want your wreath and how big the hole in the middle of the wreath will be.

-Lay the paper under a piece of parchment paper so you can see your drawn circle underneath. Make sure you have the papers on a flat pan so that it’s easy to move the wreath back and forth to the refrigerator for cooling.

-Heat your candy wafers according to the package directions.

-Carefully pour the melted candy wafers into a piping bag or small sealable plastic bag.

-Squeeze the melted wafers to the point and clip off a very small part of the point.

-Using circular motions, pipe in circular motions starting at one side of the wreath, making the motions all the way around, going around the circle once or twice. Overlap the circular motions – you don’t need to trace them exactly.

-Place the wreath in the refrigerator for 3-4 minutes.

-Take it out of the refrigerator and pipe more circular motions around the wreath 2-3 more times to make it thicker.

-Place it in the refrigerator to chill it for another 3-4 minutes.

-Repeat the circular piping motions around the wreath and refrigerating it a couple more times. Each layer of piping should be a little thinner. This will make a curved appearance to the top of the wreath all the way around.

-Chill again in the refrigerator for 3-4 minutes.

-Take it out of the refrigerator and look it over. Do you want it any thicker? If so, repeat with more circular piped motions around the wreath.

-If the wreath is the thickness you like, pipe a little candy melt in each of five areas on the wreath where you want to place your holly leaves and berries. Place a 2-3 green holly leaves in each of the 5 areas, with 1-3 little red berries in the center of each leaf group.

-Place in the center of your cheesecake just before you’re ready to serve. I was traveling with my cheesecake and it would not fit with the wreath on top. So I packed the wreath separately and set it in place once I arrived at the dinner party.


Cutting and serving:

-Using a serrated knife and wet paper towel, cut the cheesecake in triangular slices. You may need to lift the white candy wreath off the cheesecake before cutting.

-If you want to keep the wreath in the center of the cheesecake during the slicing, process, cut a circle in the cheesecake around the wreath. Then cut the slices just to the wreath without breaking the wreath. After the slices are served, you’ll end up with a small round cheesecake with the wreath on top.

-Use the wet paper towel to wipe the knife between slices so the chocolate does not build up on the knife. Or, scrape it off onto a small plate. 


-I keep my ganache covered, decorated cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I don’t have a covered container for that size cheesecake, so I place one of my larger mixing bowls over it.

-I store my cheesecakes in the freezer for about a month after I wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. First, I place the plate with the cheesecake in the freezer, with no cover. Once it’s pretty much solid, I slice it into individual pieces and then wrap each separately with plastic wrap. Then place it into an airtight container. My cheesecakes just don’t last any longer because someone pulls it out for snitching pieces or serving it up or taking it to an event. But, that’s okay!

-I like to cut up my cheesecake into single or double servings and wrap each with plastic wrap. Pack into an airtight container. That way, I can reserve most of the cheesecake for later and still “grab and go” a piece if I want some coffee with a treat.


This is a deliciously decadent cheesecake which can be made for any event, family dinner or even just a small slice with your favorite hot flavored coffee. However you enjoy your cheesecake, “Bake your own Memories!”

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