Her quirky eye for creativity gave Frances Quinn the edge in an all-female final against Ruby Tandoh and Kimberley Wilson in 2013. The former children’s clothes designer wowed Bake Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with her imaginative showstoppers, including rainbow-style savoury picnic pie and showstopper three-tier wedding cake, inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Last summer, her book Quintessential Baking was published, which features honey bee bites, giant jammy dodgers and hidden bulb cakes. As well as her brownie owls…
Frances says: “These are a hoot – chocolate, biscuits and nuts all nestled together in a brownie cupcake. The recipe makes use of round, cream-filled chocolate biscuits, split in half.
"The cream-covered sides make up the owls’ wise eyes; some of the other halves go to make crunchy bases for the cakes; and the remainder are broken up and stirred into the mix to give you a brownie with bite. If you want even more texture, add a handful of chopped nuts to the batter too: they’ll make for a bake that’s totally top of the tree!”
24 round, cream-filled chocolate biscuits, such as Oreos (about 265g)
150g butter, roughly chopped
3tbsp golden or maple syrup
300g golden caster sugar
300g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1tbsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (at room temperature)
150g plain flour
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1tbsp golden syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
150ml double cream
24 giant milk chocolate buttons (about 100g)
24 small, round, dark chocolate chips
12 whole skin-on almonds
72 milk chocolate buttons (about 90g)
You will need
12-hole muffin tin
12 paper muffin cases
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Line the tin with the muffin cases.
2. Split the chocolate biscuits in half. Set the 24 cream-covered halves aside. Put 12 of the plain halves into your muffin cases, embossed side down. Put the remaining 12 plain halves in a sandwich bag encased in a tea towel and bash into large crumbs using a rolling pin. Set aside.
3. Put the butter, syrup and sugar into a saucepan. Set it over a medium heat and warm, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate and vanilla extract. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften.
4. Stir the warm chocolatey mixture in the pan until smoothly combined, then use a hand-held electric whisk to beat in the eggs until the mixture is thick and velvety. Sift over the flour in a couple of batches, gently folding in each batch until just combined. Finally, fold in the broken-up biscuit pieces.
5. Spoon the mixture into the biscuit-based muffin cases, dividing it evenly. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the brownies have risen and are firm to the touch; a skewer inserted into the centre should come out a little sticky.
6. Leave the brownies to cool completely in the tin – they will firm up as they cool. If you like a really fudgy brownie, refrigerate them before decorating.
Recipe and photo credit: Quinntessential Baking by Frances Quinn, published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £25
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