Antoni Porowski Has The Best Hacks For Taking Any Brownie Mix To The Next Level

·5 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Antoni Porowski likes to make his own rules when it comes to cooking, and especially when it comes to the Betty Crocker brownie mix. The Queer Eye food and wine expert, cookbook author, and adorable Polish-Canadian teamed up with the brand to celebrate their 100th anniversary. In a chat with Delish, he explained his hacks for amping up the boxed stuff, why brownies should always be frosted, and what we can expect on the upcoming season of Queer Eye.

Brownies made from the box was one of the first things I was allowed to cook on my own. Do you remember baking them as a kid?

It was in the early '90s. [My sisters and I] would go to this storage room where you keep all the shelf-stable stuff. My parents kept their wine there, and we kept Betty Crocker frosting , the yellow super moist cake, and the brownie mix.

We would basically argue for 30 minutes over which one we were going to make. It was always the brownie mix. We would undercook it for three minutes so that it was still nice and gooey in the center, but crispy along the edges. There was one day where my dad went downstairs to get something, and the lid wasn't put back properly on the frosting. He looked inside, and there were literal finger marks of missing frosting.

It was after Polish school. We sat down for our Saturday morning breakfast, and he was so furious. He was like, “At least use a spoon! The fact that one of you used your fingers—that's not how we raised you.”

We refused to admit who it was. It was only five years ago [when] my sister finally admitted that it was her to my other sister, but still denies it to the rest of us. My father threatened to actually have the container DNA tested; I don't even know if it was possible, but we were absolutely terrified.

Do you frost your brownies?

You know, I just assumed that everybody puts frosting on brownies, but apparently they don’t. You can thin it out with a little bit of water, so that it coats the little nooks and crannies more evenly.

And here's another hack you didn't ask for: Instead of the water, you can use leftover coffee. We learned that from—I say collectively, as a society—from the Barefoot Contessa.

We learn so much from her. How do you take your brownie batter to the next level?

I must say, [Betty Crocker mixes] are great on their own, but I can't help myself. I'll glance over at a recipe, and then go and figure out how to make it my own, whether it's savory or sweet. That's just how I operate. I also can't follow instructions very well, except for temperature and oven times.

I'll go straight to a CVS and just get all of my favorite candy bars. I’ll crumble that, chips, even pretzels [into the batter]. It's usually something that I'll have on a weekend when I'm just enjoying some Housewives or Love on the Spectrum, which is a personal favorite.

Come on this journey with me: It’s late night. You just got home from drinks out. You’re starving, but have no patience to cook a full meal. What are you making?

This takes me back to my early days in New York. When I just moved here, I discovered that there were $1.09 packages of small corn tortillas. My father would send me some sharp clothbound cheddar from Vermont he would get at Costco that was covered in wax. It's like delicious and sweet and crystal-y. So I grate that onto tortillas and put it on a hot pan with a little bit of olive oil. Basically, it's a quesadilla.

I have the pickled jalapeños that I always keep, just for a bit of heat. If I have the patience, I'll make a simple little pico. Otherwise, if I don't have sour cream, I'll use Greek yogurt. I love putting Greek yogurt into my TexMex. It's sharp, it's tangy, it's packed with protein— not that I care about protein at three o'clock in the morning.

Protein keeps you full! Any recent food trends you’ve got opinions on?

I just got into a mini argument with my boyfriend about it, because he told me that he wanted, what was it, a watermelon with mustard? Zero interest. I had sheep’s brain when I was 12 for my mother's 40th birthday at a really fancy French restaurant. I'm down to try whatever! But watermelon with mustard? It's just like why, why, why are we curious to see what that could possibly taste like?

Tajín, that wonderful Mexican seasoning on watermelon, it's fantastic. I put it on mangoes as well. In Montreal growing up, my Armenian friends used a cheese called Tresse, which is kind of like a mozzarella. It’s very tight and very firm with black sesame seeds. It's extremely salty, and they would eat it with watermelon. That was my first introduction to a sweet fruit with something salty to kind of counter it. But the mustard is just too creamy, and it's like no, no, no.

Any sneak peeks or hints you can give us on the upcoming season of Queer Eye?

There isn’t much I’m allowed to say, unfortunately, but I can promise you that diversity continues to be our goal in terms of the heroes we showcase on our show. That, and there’s an episode that left me bawling the moment I met the person we were helping.

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