A new variety of chocolate has a surprising color and flavor
t might taste like berries and have a brilliant pink hue, but ruby chocolate is cocoa to the core.
Creator Barry Callebaut calls ruby chocolate the “fourth chocolate,” an addition to traditional varieties of dark, milk and white chocolate. The pink treat was introduced in Shanghai in 2017 and quickly developed a cult following among chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Francoise Labrique Walusis, president of Madame Delluc Artisan Chocolatier in Ohio, is a big fan of the pink treat, explaining, “It’s a beautiful experience to bite into it.”
With rare exceptions, the novel ingredient isn’t sold in the U.S. Madame Delluc Artisan Chocolatier has an exclusive relationship with Mary Chocolatier, a Belgian chocolatier with access to ruby chocolate.
Walusis believes her Ohio chocolate shop is the only place in North America selling ruby chocolate treats. Nestle introduced ruby chocolate version of its Kit Kat bar last spring but (so far) distribution is limited to Japan and the U.K.
To get ruby chocolate distributed in the U.S., Callebaut needs to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change its definition of chocolate. Currently, the federal definition of what can be labeled as chocolate is narrow. Ruby chocolate is not white, dark or milk chocolate — all approved under federal guidelines — so it must be labeled as a compound, not chocolate.
Callebaut has requested a temporary marketing permit and awaits a response.
The Secret Behind the Science
It took 10 years for Callebaut to develop ruby chocolate. Although the Swiss chocolatier has been tight-lipped about the ingredients, citing “trade secrets,” he has confirmed the pretty pink confection is made from cacao beans and contains no artificial ingredients. The so called “ruby beans” are botanical cocoa bean varieties that grow in Brazil, Ecuador and the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire. Callebaut calls it the most “innovative breakthrough in chocolate” in 80 years.
“I’ve done a lot of research and I can’t figure out how it’s made,” Walusis says.
Artisan chocolatier Luke Owen Smith, owner of The Chocolate Bar in New Zealand, speculates that the cacao is unfermented and adds, “I’m sure there’s some other trickery in the processing [but] it’s all guesswork at the moment as nothing has been revealed.” Smith believes ruby chocolate isn’t a new type of chocolate but rather a different kind of processing.
It appears that the secrecy around its origins has only fueled the desire to try the new confection.
Ruby Dripping Donuts
75 g (1/3 cup) butter, softened
115 g (½ cup) caster sugar
50 g (1 large) eggs
650 g (2 ¾ cups) flour
350 g (2 ½ cups) whole milk
30 g (2 tablespoons) yeast
2 g (pinch) salt
- Add the caster sugar and eggs to the butter and mix until smooth.
- Add the flour, milk and yeast and stir well.
- Add the salt.
- Knead the dough until smooth.
- Shape the dough into a ball, put in a bowl and cover with foil. Once the dough is twice its original volume, roll it out (about 1 cm thick) and cut donut shapes.
- Place dough under a towel, leave for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Preheat 1 kg sunflower oil to 175-180°C.
- Fry the donuts until golden brown.
- Put on paper towel to absorb fat and then place them in the refrigerator.
500 g (18 ounces) ruby chocolate
- Pre-crystallize at 27°C (80.6°F) to obtain thicker texture.
- Dip donuts in ruby chocolate, shake slightly and fix drippings with a cooling spray.
Madame Delluc Artisan Chocolatier sells a made-in-Belgium truffle made with ruby chocolate. The “Truffle Champagne Rose” has a champagne-infused dark chocolate mousse center covered in ruby chocolate. From the moment it was introduced last spring, the Ohio chocolatier has struggled to keep up with demand.
“There was a huge rush of people who came in wanting to try something new and kept coming back wanting more,” Walusis recalls. “In the first month-and-a-half after we started selling [ruby chocolate] we went through five kilograms of truffles.”
Ruby chocolate is so popular that it took center stage at the 90th Academy Awards. The 2018 Governors Ball, the official Oscars after party, included ruby chocolate strawberries and cream, a dessert made with strawberry-hibiscus mousse, strawberry compote, vanilla sponge cake, mascarpone cream and ruby chocolate.
Taste the Difference
Ruby chocolate doesn’t just look different from other chocolate varieties, it tastes different, too. Callebaut describes the brilliant pink confection as having “intense fruitiness” and fresh sour notes with subtle hints of the cocoa flavor of milk and dark chocolate.
Both Smith and Walusis use the words “light” and “berries” to describe the flavor of ruby chocolate.
“The flavor is subtle, not overpowering,” Walusis says. “You bite into it and it blooms in your mouth at the end of the bite. The berries are not the first thing you taste.”
Due to its fruit-forward flavor, Callebaut suggests pairing ruby chocolate with other fruits such as apricot, pineapple, mango and citrus; it also complements flavors ranging from caramel, vanilla and dark chocolate to camembert, green tea and saffron.
As an ingredient, Callebaut believes ruby chocolate presents opportunities to get creative with confections, pastries and desserts. On its website, the Swiss chocolatier shares videos on how to work with the novel ingredient, offering tips on tempering ruby chocolate; using it in molds; making buttercream; and even using the colorful chocolate in cocktails.
While ruby chocolate has created a lot of buzz, Smith has called it “on the fringe of what I would want to consider chocolate,” and credits its color, not its flavor, for the attention.
“I think that everyone will want to try it because of the hype, but I’m not sure it’s interesting or unique enough to maintain a dedicated following,” he says. “My instinct is that the majority of chocolate fans would prefer something that tastes more traditionally chocolatey…What I am interested in is whether perhaps this technique could be developed in the future, and implemented by fine chocolate companies to create a higher quality version.”
Walusis believes ruby chocolate has staying power.
“Mary Chocolatier is a traditional chocolatier that has been making chocolates in small batches, by hand, since the 1920s; it doesn’t do fads,” she says.
“Their embrace of ruby chocolate and all of the excitement around it tells me it has staying power. As soon as you taste it, you’ll agree.