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Sophie’s Snakes & Ladders Biscuit Board Game

A rainy day project for all the family! The chequerboard is made in 4 quarter sections, which are joined after baking to make a 40 x 40cm playing board with 100 squares (50 lemon, 50 chocolate). It’s piped with icing snakes and ladders.

Makes: 1 large board

Hands-on time: 4 hours

Baking time: 20 minutes

Skill level: Needs skill

For the lemon dough:

400g plain flour

50g semolina

150g ground almonds

300g caster sugar

finely grated zest of 5 unwaxed lemons

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp lemon extract

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp 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 eggs, beaten

To decorate:

150g royal icing sugar

food-colouring gel in various colours

You will need:

4 baking sheets

4 squares of foil lined with baking paper, each measuring 20 x 20cm, to line the baking sheets

Ruler

Several small disposable piping bags

No.1 or No.2 writing nozzles (optional)

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

Step 2Make the lemon dough. Put the flour, semolina, ground almonds, sugar and lemon zest into a food-processor bowl and pulse to combine. Add the butter and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Step 3Add the egg, lemon extract and juice, yuzu juice, and the edible bergamot oil (if using). Blitz again until almost combined. Carefully tip the mixture into a large bowl and knead to make a firm, but not crumbly dough.

Step 4Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worktop. Roll into a large 40 x 20cm rectangle and 5mm thick. Using the ruler and a large knife, cut away the edges to make a very neat rectangle measuring exactly 38 x 19cm. Divide the long side into 10 strips, then cut across the short side in 5 strips to make 50 squares of 3.8cm. Cover lightly with cling film and set aside. Save the trimmings.

Step 5To make the chocolate dough, put the chocolate chips, flour, almonds, cocoa powder and sugar into the food-processor bowl and pulse to combine and make the chocolate chips smaller. 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 to bring the dough together.

Step 6Repeat step 4 for the chocolate dough, then cut the saved chocolate trimmings into strips measuring 1cm wide and 20cm long.

Step 7Assemble the 4 quarters that make up the board. Place each square of parchment-lined foil on a baking sheet. Place the lemon and chocolate squares alternately in 5 rows of 5 on each square of parchment-lined foil. Edge 2 adjoining sides of each quarter with the chocolate dough strips, so that when the 4 quarters are assembled, the board has a complete edging.

Step 8Bake the squares for about 18–22 minutes, or until the lemon squares just start to turn golden and the biscuits are firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheets.

Step 9Roll and cut the lemon dough trimmings into playing pieces and dice, then bake alongside the squares for 15–18 minutes.

Step 10Meanwhile, make the royal icing. Mix the royal icing sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water to make a smooth, thick, pipeable icing. Transfer the icing to smaller bowls (one for every colour you want to use). Add a little colouring gel to each bowl, then transfer each to a separate small piping bag, fitted with a fine writing nozzle (if using).

Step 11Carefully assemble the board on a very large cutting board or thick piece of card, gently pressing the 4 quarters together. If the biscuits don’t quite fit neatly, very gently trim them so the chocolate edging runs neatly around the outer edge of the board.

Step 12To decorate, pipe snakes and ladders on the board – adding eyes, and stripes or spots to the snakes. Leave to set.