There’s dark chocolate, there’s milk chocolate, and there’s white chocolate. You go into the chocolate aisle of the supermarket and you will see Toblerone in these three main variants, so we all know about it, right? If you are someone who doesn’t like Toblerone, then you can use whatever chocolate you like as your reference.
Now sometime back, I got a chance to try something called ‘Ruby Chocolate’. One of the tablets I had ordered from the Spring-Summer collection of Ether Chocolate had Ruby Chocolate as its base, paired with other ingredients to form their tablet called ‘Starlet’. It was a nice pinkish red in color, you could say it was a ‘dark dusty pink’ if you like to keep up with the latest trends. If you are someone who watches ‘The Great British Bake Off’, then you would have heard of this ingredient as well. Contestants Sura Selvarajah had baked dark and ruby chocolate-swirled brownies with Italian meringue. Another contestant – Marc Elliott had used the Ruby Chocolate as an ingredient in his ginger, cherry, and pistachio Florentines. Yet another contestant from another season – Priya O’Shea had baked Ruby Barfi Biscuit Bars. So you know how popular this chocolate has become and how appealing that red chocolate looks.
What you do not usually assume, is the taste. It is unlike any – dark, milk, or white chocolate you would have tasted – ruby chocolate is a whole new experience for the taste buds.
What is Ruby Chocolate?
Ruby Chocolate is a proprietary product of Barry Callebaut. Its color is categorized as ‘millenial pink’and it is super fruity to taste. The Ruby Chocolate was introduced to the world by Barry Callebaut at an event in Shanghai in September 2017 (oh those pre-Covid times when you could be a globetrotter without having a swab stuck into your nose till like almost your brain every time you went to the airport!). The first mass market release of the ruby chocolate took place in early 2018.
It has been about eighty years since the last new type of chocolate – the white chocolate has been invented. After all this time, there is this new chocolate on the block – the Ruby Chocolate. The taste of ruby chocolate is usually described as a ‘tango of berry fruityness and luscious smoothness’. It took over ten years of intensive research and development to develop the Ruby Chocolate and various brands have now embraced this new taste – KitKat, Magnum, Starbucks, Prestat, etc.
What gives Ruby Chocolate its fruity taste?
If you taste Ruby Chocolate, you would likely assume there were definitely some berries added to white chocolate to make the ruby chocolate. However, Callebaut opines that ruby chocolate is actually a blend of cocoa beans from Brazil, the Ivory Coast, and Ecuador. It also says that no external color is added to the ruby chocolate. The ‘millenial pink’ color, according to Callebaut, comes from the processing of cocoa beans. Callebaut calls the Ruby Chocolate as RB1 and they say it is made from ‘Ruby Cocoa Bean’. Since it is a proprietary Callebaut product, there is no way you would find ruby chocolate beans on the market. Ruby chocolate does not contain any color or flavor additives. The ruby chocolate, says Callebaut, is a product of selecting the right cocoa bean and tempering it in a specific process. Some chefs have suggested that a cocoa bean could classify as a ruby cocoa bean if it contains certain ‘sought-after precursors’ in the shell. The process and all the information is proprietary but there have been speculations that ruby chocolate processing would involve treating unfermented cocoa beans with acid such that the sour flavors of the beans are preserved in the final chocolate. The flesh gets used as the natural sweetener in the process while the cocoa shell would get used to extract cocoa butter, etc. Thus, the entire pod gets used for some or the other purpose and nothing goes to waste.
Barry Callebaut being an industrial chocolate manufacturer, it does not have retail sales as such. Any ruby chocolate you find would be mixed with other ingredients like sugar and milk, and already processed.Callebaut sells the ruby chocolate to other chocolate makers and large corporations, who then use it to make various products – chocolates for retail consumption to other goodies. The usual ingredients used then would be sugar, milk, soy lecithin, vanilla, cocoa butter, citric acid, etc.
Ruby vs. White vs. Milk vs. Dark Chocolate
Milk chocolate usually contains 10 to 30% cocoa. Sometimes, milk chocolate can have up to 70% cocoa, which then gets called the dark milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate would usually contains 50 to 90% cocoa.
White chocolate usually contains 20 to 40% cocoa.
Compared to this, ruby chocolate contains 47.3% cocoa solids. In this regard, it falls closer to the milk and white chocolates. Bakers and chocolatiers who temper ruby chocolate frequently have found that it behaves similar to white chocolate. They have discovered that following the temperature patterns of white chocolate for tempering, with which the ruby chocolate holds the temper rather beautifully, giving it a nice shine strength, and snap.
However, while you can easily find dark, milk, and white chocolate – compounds, covetures, ready-to-eat bars and tablets, etc. made from a countless number of manufacturers – small and big just about anywhere in the world, ruby chocolate is not available thus. It is a proprietary product available only in certain forms fit for industrial or further processing use through select channels.
What’s all the controversy around ruby chocolate?
Up until ruby chocolate began making waves, the market had only three main types of chocolates – white, milk, and dark. But there is a lot of debate around if ruby chocolate should be recognized as a fourth type of chocolate. Renowned chocolate expert Kennedy has said that he is not convinced it is a fourth type of chocolate. He opines that even though it has a different color and taste than the three known types of chocolates, he has known chocolate producers in Peru to make this pink chocolate for many years now. He also adds that the ruby chocolate definitely tastes like white chocolate mixed with raspberries and some milk chocolate – simply put – a raspberry flavored white-ish chocolate.
At its end, Callebaut has also remained tight-lipped about the ruby chocolate. It has a temporary permit to sell ruby chocolate since the FDA and most other food regulators do not have legal standards for classifying ruby chocolate yet. Callebaut has faced litigation in the past for purchasing illegally-grown cocoa linked to deforestation and also for child slavery by knowingly profiting off and perpetuating orced labor in Africa.
In recent times, there have been some amazing bean-to-bar chocolate makers who are fully transparent about where their chocolates come from down to every bean – from sourcing to processing. Probably, the future of good chocolate could go beyond the big not-so-transparent, not-so-innovative corporations?
Is ruby chocolate a chocolate?
It is a chocolate, alright, no doubt there. But if it is the fourth type of chocolate apart from milk, white, and dark that is still a debate.
Should you try Ruby Chocolate?
If you find it, and the tangy taste of juicy raspberries with the smoothness of milk/white chocolate appeals to you, go on, take a bite. Chances are, like me, you would be surprised – pleasantly or otherwise. Chances are your mind will be blown because this is not how you expect a chocolate to taste or look like. We can be open to new experiences and to try everything we can, can’t we?
What does Ruby Chocolate pair with?
There is a lot of foods and beverages that you can pair ruby chocolate with. Here are some suggestions:
- Spices: Cinnamon, clove, curry, ginger, pepper, turmeric, wasabi
- Vegetables: Carrot, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato, tomato
- Oil & Vinegar: Balsamic, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, white vinegar
- Chocolate: Caramel dore, Madagascar, Tanzania
- Nuts: Almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, peanut, pecan, pine kernel, pistachio, walnuts
- Coffee & Tea: Tea, Arabica coffee
- Cheese: Camambert, Gorgonzola, Mascarpone, Rocquefort
- Wine: Rose champagne, white dessert wines, red wines like Syrah, Shiraz, Rioja
- Flowers: Elderflower, hibiscus, lavender, poppy seeds, roses, sakura, violets
- Beers & Spirits: Cognac, gin, rum, sake, whiskey
- Seeds: Buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, sesame, sunflower seeds
- Fruits: Citrus, exotic, apple, apricots
- Herbs: Basil, mint, rosemary, thyme
- Crunch: Cocoa nibs, crackers, macaron, meringue, popcorn, popping candy
- Syrups: Caramel, honey, maple
- Red fruits: Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, currants, raspberries,strawberries