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Sophie’s Snakes and Ladders Biscuit Board Game

A rainy day project for all the family! Two different biscuits doughs – a rich almond, lemon and bergamot; and a chocolate choc-chip – are cut into squares and assembled to make a giant chequerboard. After baking, the board is decorated with snakes and ladders – piped on using coloured icing. If time allows, make counters and dice from the leftover dough to play for real.

* Edible bergamot oil can be hard to source so is optional. If using, make sure it is edible and made for food use.

Makes: one very large showstopper

Hands-on time: 4 hours

Baking time: 20 minutes

Skill level: Needs a little skill


For the lemon biscuits:

400g plain flour

50g ground semolina

150g ground almonds

300g caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 5 unwaxed lemons

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

1 medium egg, at room temperature, beaten

1 tablespoon lemon extract

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons yuzu juice

Few drops of edible bergamot oil* (optional)


For the chocolate dough:

200g dark chocolate chips

370g plain flour

100g ground almonds

120g cocoa powder

300g caster sugar

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

2 medium eggs, at room temperature, beaten


To decorate:

150g royal icing sugar

1½ tablespoons water

Food colouring gel/paste in various colours


You will also need:

Several baking sheets

Parchment-lined foil

Food processor


Large knife

Several small disposable piping bags

Fine writing tubes, no 1 or no 2 (optional)

Step 1 – Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C/375°F/Gas 5.

Step 2 – The chequerboard is made in 4 quarter sections, which are joined after baking to make a large (40cm x 40cm) playing board with 100 squares (50 lemon, 50 chocolate) and a chocolate-biscuit border. Cut the parchment-lined foil into 4 squares, each measuring 20cm x 20cm, and place onto your baking sheets (if you don’t have 4, bake in batches).

Step 3 – Make the lemon dough: put the flour, semolina, ground almonds, sugar and lemon zest into the food processor bowl and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, lemon extract, lemon juice, yuzu juice, and a few drops of edible bergamot oil (if using) and whizz again until almost combined. Carefully tip the mixture into a large bowl and knead to make a firm but not crumbly dough.

Step 4 – Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worktop (in hot weather you may need to wrap and chill the dough for a few minutes if it feels sticky). Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 40cm x 20cm and 5mm thick. Using the ruler and large knife, cut away the edges to make a very neat rectangle measuring exactly 38 x 19cm. Cut this into 50 squares of 3.8cm x 3.8cm (divide the long side into 10 strips, then cut across the short side in 5 strips). Cover lightly with cling film and set aside. Save the trimmings.

Step 5 – To make the chocolate dough: put the chocolate chips, flour, almonds, cocoa powder and sugar into the food processor bowl and pulse a few times to make the chocolate chips slightly smaller and combine all the ingredients. Add the butter and blitz to make crumbs, then add the eggs and blitz again until the mixture just begins to come together. Tip into a large bowl and knead the dough to bring it together.

Step 6 – Repeat step 4, rolling the dough 5mm thick and into a rectangle of 41cm x 21cm. Trim to a 38cm x 19cm rectangle then cut into 50 squares as before. Cut the saved trimmings into 1cm x 20cm strips.

Step 7 – Assemble the 4 quarters that make up the board: place the lemon and chocolate squares alternately in five rows of five on each square of parchment-lined foil. Edge 2 adjoining sides of each quarter with the chocolate dough strips, so when the 4 are assembled the board has an edging all the way around.

Step 8 – Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 18-22 minutes or until the lemon squares just start to turn golden and the biscuits are firm (if in doubt, bake for a minute or so longer to make sure the biscuits are thoroughly baked). Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheets. The lemon dough trimmings can be rolled and cut into playing pieces and dice, then baked alongside the squares for 15-18 minutes (depending on size and thickness).

Step 9 – Meanwhile, make the royal icing: mix the royal icing sugar with the water to make a smooth, thick icing that can be easily piped. Transfer the icing to smaller bowls (one for every colour you want to use to decorate the board). Add a little colouring gel/paste to each bowl then transfer each to a separate small piping bag – fitted with a fine writing tube, if using.

Step 10 – Carefully assemble the boardgame on a very large cutting board or thick piece of card by gently pressing the 4 quarters together. If the biscuits don’t quite fit together, very gently trim them so the chocolate edging runs neatly around the outer edge of the board.

Step 11 – To decorate: pipe snakes and ladders on the board – adding eyes, stripes or spots to the snakes. Leave to set before playing – or eating.