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From the Latin biscoctus for 'twice cooked', these are often small, rather hard biscuits meant as accompaniment to a sweet dessert wine, although a biscotto can also mean a cake-like a buccellato.

Classic Italian biscotti include the dry and crunchy Tuscan biscotti di Prato, or cantuccini, made with almonds. Another is the amaretti of Lombardy, much the same but flavoured with amaretto, almond liqueur.

Other regions have their own varieties, such as the pepatelli of the Abruzzo, with almonds and pepper.

Lately, though, biscotti has also come to mean every sort of sweet biscuit or cookie.

biscotti di Ceglie Messapica (pesquett): made with Messapica cherry jam, ground almonds, lemon zest and citrus liqueur in Puglia are in the Ark of Taste.

biscotti regina: made in Sicily, the 'queen's biscuits' are small and covered with sesame seeds; also known as reginelle.

biscotti ringo: pinwheel cookies

biscotti savoiardi: lady fingers

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: fugzu