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Most of us think of coffee as a drink which hits the spot when we need it most. That hard morning at work would be difficult to handle if we missed that cuppa at half past ten. However, another way to enjoy coffee to its full potential is to incorporate it in your cooking and taste the difference it makes. 

The Italians are famous for their espresso, cappuccino and macchiato coffees which we drink on a daily basis. However, when in Italy remember not to ask for a latte because you will be served a cup of milk!

In Italy, coffee is also enjoyed in many recipes throughout the country. Tiramisu, which literally means `pick me up`, is perhaps the most famous of them all with its rich darkness of espresso and creamy mascarpone mingling on the tongue. This is truly one of the best desserts ever.

A smooth Pannacotta can be flavoured with coffee, although it is important not to be too heavy handed as the flavour is supposed to be light and delicate.

Affogato, which means `drowning` in Italian, is simply ice cream with hot espresso poured over it. The strength of the espresso depends purely upon personal taste and can be as warm or as cool as you like. It depends on how quickly you want the ice cream to melt and mingle.

Another cold favourite is granita which is, simply, flavoured ice crushed into large pieces and served either on its own or with cream. Instead of using the more traditional lemon to flavour the ice, try coffee instead. It is quite delicious and very refreshing.

A simple and delicious recipe to try is Coppa Al Caffe, another sublime mix of eggs, coffee and mascarpone.

It has to be said that none of these dishes is really for people who are watching their waistlines. Mascarpone is high in calories, absolutely lovely and nothing else will do! However, give way to temptation occasionally and savour the flavour.

Baking is always popular in any home and we all like cakes and the different breads on offer, either to buy or make ourselves. Cappuccino bread and butter pudding is one dessert which will become a firm favourite. Chocolate is used to complement the espresso which adds that little kick to stop it being too rich.

A recipe with a firm textured crumb is Cappuccino Bread which is made using the ever versatile espresso and a little chocolate. Lovely served as a special breakfast treat and the children will adore it.

Although a cool iced coffee in the summer is refreshing and quenches a raging thirst there is nothing quite like a granita al caffe to cool and soothe the hot and weary. Coffee beans are a leading supplier of the best quality coffee and there are coffee beans available which will further add to the unforgettable flavour of your cooking. Buon appetito!