Entertaining With Coffee During the Holidays

December 21, 2015 1:33 pm Last Updated: December 23, 2015 3:25 pm

During the daily grind, coffee’s often a necessary pick-me-up, and during the holidays, the caffeinated boost also comes in handy—think of the nonstop shopping, cooking, and entertaining.

But coffee can also add flavor and oomph to festive drinks and dishes. Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, brand ambassadors for Lavazza coffee, use it in drinks like spicy hot chocolate coffee or mocha martini, or brunch dishes like Pandoro French Toast.

Just make sure to remember one rule, they advise: no matter which method you use to make it, never pack your coffee.

“Hot water has to flow through the coffee. If it gets hard for the water to pass through, the flavor will be altered and your coffee will taste real bitter,” said Corcos.

And if you happen to use a Moka, remember the first coffee is always stronger and more concentrated. His grandmother, Nonna Lola, “would actually cheat and always steal the first coffee that was coming out of the machine since she was the one making it in the kitchen,” he said. The lighter half would go to her husband Renato.

Spicy Hot Chocolate Coffee

Taking inspiration from the ancient Aztec tradition of adding hot spices to a chocolate drink, Mazar and Corcos add a generous shot of coffee in it to give it an extra kick. Drip-coffee is less aggressive than espresso, so it will not completely overpower the chocolate flavor.

Prep & Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 ounces 80 percent dark chocolate 
  • ½ cup Lavazza Gran Selezione Coffee
  • 2 pinches crushed hot pepper (or 1 dry red chili pepper, split with seeds removed)


Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into the milk. (Adding the pod is optional.)

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a gentle simmer.

Add the chocolate, coarsely chopped, and the chili pepper. Mix constantly until all chocolate is melted.

Remove from heat and let steep for about 5 minutes.

Strain through a tight mesh sift and serve.

Tips: Depending on your taste, play with the ingredient amounts—try using more hot pepper, or swapping drip coffee for espresso, or even sourcing different kinds of chocolate. Also, try adding liquor such as grappa, brandy, or rum.

(Courtesy of Lavazza)
(Courtesy of Lavazza)

Lavazza Mocha Martini

Serves: 2

  • 4 ounces quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed Lavazza Gran Aroma
  • 2 ounces brandy (or grappa or rum)
  • 2 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • Ice


Make the coffee ganache by putting the chocolate in a small, heat-proof bowl. Add the coffee and allow the coffee to steep for two minutes before whisking until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool for 20–30 minutes. (The ganache can be made in advance and gently warmed when ready to use.)

Pour half the ganache (approximately a half cup) into the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the brandy and swirl to combine. Add the heavy cream and swirl to combine.

 Add one cup of ice and shake vigorously, until the beverage is ice cold. Strain into a martini or cocktail cup.

(Courtesy of Lavazza)
(Courtesy of Lavazza)

Pandoro French Toast With Mascarpone Brown Sugar Cream

Perfect for breakfast on Christmas morning with a cup of Lavazza coffee or cappuccino.

Prep & Cooking Time: 25 minutes


For the French Toast:

  • 1 cup brewed Lavazza coffee, Santa Marta blend
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 1-inch slices Pandoro
  • 4 tablespoons butter

For the Cream:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt


In a large bowl, combine the coffee and heavy cream. Add eggs, sugar, and salt, and whisk until fully combined. 

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter.

Quickly dip one end of the Pandoro into the batter, flip, dip the other side, and transfer to the skillet.

Cook each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Add more butter to the skillet, as needed, and cook the remaining Pandoro in batches. 

For the cream, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whip to medium peaks with a hand blender.  Alternatively, you can whip by hand or in a stand mixer.

Note:  It is imperative that you dip the Pandoro into the batter as quickly as possible.