Top Pick Of The Week

September 9, 2008

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Strawberry Champagne Brownie

This Strawberry Champagne Blondie, chock full of dried strawberries and chocolate chunks, is guaranteed to please. The gold leaf on the garnishing strawberries is an added touch of elegance. Photography by Saidi Granados.

WHAT IT IS: Amazing, elegant gourmet brownies.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Recipes developed by a brilliant pastry chef who makes everything old—even as wonderful as a brownie—seem magically new again. Flavors like Lemon White, Strawberry Champagne and Mimi’s Molasses are brilliant.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The recipes are incredible, the products are beautiful, the packaging is beyond one’s imagination. Please, send us more!

Ruby Et Violette:
Brownies Fit For Royalty

CAPSULE REPORT: We taste a lot of great food in our line of work. Some, we feel honored to taste. Such are the six brownie flavors of Ruby et Violette.

Ruby et Violette’s chocolate chunk cookies were a Top Pick Of The Week in 2005. Since then, the original owner retired and three energetic young sisters bought the business. Thank goodness for family businesses: These entrepreneurs have done amazing things, adding brilliant brownies and ice cream the likes of which we’ve never seen on this planet. They could be served in an connoisseurs’ convention. The exquisite gift boxes could be presented at Buckingham Palace, with no additional wrapping required, and remain as a memento of the gift after the brownies are gone.

How good are they? While we love all of the products we write about, here, we’re deeply in love. Should the Mercer sisters try to retire, we’d track them down to get the secret recipes. If you are in New York City, visit the Ruby et Violette Café at 457 West 50th Street. Read more about Ruby et Violette in the full review below. And take a look at our favorite baked goods in our Cookies, Cakes & Pastries Section.

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.


Bake Your Own Brownies

Brownie Points Brownies The Ultimate Brownie Book
Brownie Points: Over 100 Outrageously Delicious and Easy Variations on North America’s Favorite Dessert, by Lisa Slater. Tested and proven, easy-to-make recipes for every imaginable kind of brownie delicacy, including muffins, cupcakes and cheesecakes. There are sugar-free and gluten-free recipes too, along with detailed discussions of baking methods and equipment. Click here for more information or to purchase. Brownies, by Linda Collister. Mouthwatering photography and foolproof recipes for a whole bakery full of brownies. Make everything from Peanut Butter to Chocolate Mint, Raspberry to White Chocolate, basic Brownie to Blondie. There also are brownie desserts like Brownie Cheesecake and Brownie Fudge Pie, plus an entire chapter of dessert sauces to pour over your brownies. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Ultimate Brownie Book: Thousands of Ways to Make America’s Favorite Treat, by Bruce Weinstein. Each recipe comes with a large number of suggested variations, both subtle and flavor-forward (toasted pepitas and chopped dried prunes in banana brownies, for instance). Some variations, such as Mexican Chocolate Brownies, are au courant, while Chile Brownies and Sweet Corn Brownies are cutting-edge. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Ruby et Violette: Brownies Fit For Royalty




This has been a good year for brownies: first, Geoff & Drew’s moist, fudgy grab-and-go brownies; then Mariposa Baking Co.’s delicious, gluten-free brownies; now Ruby et Violette’s gourmet extravaganzas. The large (three inches square), cakey-style brownies were developed by someone with The Gift. Each one is a winner. There are blondies, brownies and a molasses date chocolate chunk brownie that is a must-try.

Even in the cakey (as opposed to moister, fudgier) style, these brownies are very rich thanks to liberal use of Callebaut chocolate in the batter and chocolate chunks throughout. Callebaut, one of the finest chocolates in the world, isn’t broadly available to consumers, but is used by fine bakers and chocolatiers. Yet despite the chocolatey goodness, the added sugar has been minimized, so these brownies are never too sweet. They are just perfect—and shrink-wrapped for freshness, so half a dozen can be enjoyed over a week or more.

Here, a brownie a day keeps the doctor away, because these blondies and brownies will make you so happy, any other ills will temporarily fade away.

From top to bottom: Blondie with tiny chips, Classic Brownie with no chips or nuts and Mimi’s Molasses, with dates and chocolate chunks.


It’s true blondes have more fun, if these blonde brownies are any indication. Each one is better than the next. Just when we thought we had died and gone to heaven with the Lemon White Blondie, we took a bite of Strawberry Champagne Blondie, and had to be restrained from inhaling the entire bar. Either of these flavors make an elegant dessert, the gold leaf on the Strawberry Champagne Blondie perhaps giving it an edge at fancier occasions.

Lemon White Blondie
Lemon White Blondie, on top of the stack, is a blondie with a hint of lemon flavor, garnished with lemon icing and candied lemon peel. It’s terrific.


A scrumptious bar, dense and laden with tiny chocolate morsels. There’s a chewy coconut undertone. Many years ago, an artisan bakery that made our favorite blondie closed its doors. Since then, we try every blondie we come across, hoping, like Proust, to return to times past. This is the most complex blondie we’ve ever tried—far more sophisticated than that blondie of our youth, and at this stage of our life, far more welcome. See photo above.

Lemon White Blondie

We can never get enough lemon. Here, the blondie recipe is enhanced with the lovely citrus plus large white chocolate chunks. A lemon icing stripe and candied lemon peel garnish the top. Wonderfully elegant. Photo at left.

Strawberry Champagne Blondie

But the apex of elegance has to be Strawberry Champagne. This blondie is packed with large, dried (though very moist) strawberries and dark chocolate chunks. White chocolate striping on top and more strawberries, here touched with gold leaf, add extra sophistication. We’d be hard-pressed to figure out what recipe could take it in competition. See photo at top of page.

Mimi’s Molasses Brownie

Mimi’s Molasses isn’t a blondie, because it’s laden with molasses. Nor is it a brownie—there’s no chocolate in the batter. It is, however, a heavenly concoction of moist dates, semisweet chocolate chunks and walnuts. There’s a tiny bit of coconut for texture—you don’t taste the flavor as much as enjoy the chewiness. Mimi’s Molasses is as if someone turned an award-winning date nut cake recipe into a brownie. It’s another award winner.

Chocolate Brownies

There are brownies made with chocolate, and brownies made by cocoa powder. The ones with melted chocolate are richer; the ones made with a great melted chocolate are better yet. Ruby et Violette uses Callebaut in its baked goods, and the difference shows.

Classic Chocolate Brownie

Classic is what most people might like: smooth texture, no nuts; except the crispy edges give the crunch of nuts. We can’t think of anything we’d do to change this perfect recipe, except to eat one plain and follow it up with one served à la mode.

Ultimate Brownie

We must rescind what we said about the brownies being not too rich. Ultimate Brownie, filled with peanut butter chips (which are a darn sight better than those we can buy in the supermarket) and white chocolate chunks, will require a glass of milk. It’s not over the top, but it sits upon the crest, with white chocolate and semisweet chocolate icing stripes and a top sprinkling of toffee bits. We’d say more, but we really need that glass of milk (see photo at right).

Ultimate Brownie
The Ultimate Brownie is a fitting end to this bevy
of brownie beauties.

To some, happiness is a warm puppy; to us, a box of these brownies will do just fine. Ruby et Violette’s packaging is so exquisite, you won’t be able to throw it out (nor should you—it’s a work of art you can use as room decoration). We don’t know any store in New York—or Paris, for that matter—that has any nicer packaging for jewelry, much less for brownies. Order yourself a box and you’ll feel quite royal; or plan to give your family, friends and clients the royal treatment for birthdays, holidays, Valentines, etc.

There are official brownie holidays, too: August is National Brownies At Brunch Month, but write these holidays into your book: January 22 is National Blonde Brownie Day, February 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, May 9 is National Butterscotch Brownie Day and December 8th is National Chocolate Brownie Day. We declare every day Ruby et Violette Brownie Day.

— Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves brownies and wants to give truly impressive gifts.

Blondie, Classic Chocolate, Lemon White, Mimi’s Molasses, Strawberry Champagne, Ultimate Brownie

  • Bakery Box
    5 Brownies
  • Keepsake Gift Boxes
    From 2 To 18 Brownies
    $15.25 To $109.95

Purchase online* at

Or telephone 1.718.728.6250
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time.

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party with whom we have no relationship. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.

Ruby Et Violette Brownies
The gift boxes, of heavy laminated cardboard tied with a black satin ribbon, are as magnificent as the brownies. Photo courtesy of Ruby et Violette.


Check Out These Other Top Pick Of The Week” Cookies & Brownies:


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