What is Ruby Chocolate and what does it taste like?

7 Jan 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

You love white chocolate but are you ready to think pink? Then meet ruby chocolate. It’s the ultimate chocolate for the Instagram age and Belgian inventor Callebaut claims it meets the Millennials desire for ‘hedonistic indulgence’ with its unusual flavour profile and unmissable colour.

But what exactly is ruby chocolate? In composition, it’s very close to white chocolate being heavy on the cocoa butter but the tasting notes are unlike any other bar. If you’re intrigued by the first new chocolate in over 80 years, why not test your chocolate knowledge then read on to find out more?

What is ruby chocolate?

Claiming to be the greatest innovation in chocolate making since the invention of white chocolate by Nestle in the 1930s, ruby chocolate is the perfect bar for the Instagram age.

According to their website, Belgian chocolatier Barry Callebaut first discovered the potential for ruby chocolate over 10 years ago. He noticed that certain beans could produce a vivid pink chocolate with natural berry flavours. He finally revealed the product itself in 2017 at a trade show in Shanghai and it immediately caught the attention of the world.

The journey from bean to bar may have taken a while but the timing of its launch couldn’t have been better.

Claiming to be all-natural with no added flavours or colours, the ‘fourth chocolate’ is described by its creators as “a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness.” With its dazzling look and lightly fruity taste, ruby chocolate has so far covered everything from Kit Kats to Magnums in its signature bubblegum pink.

History behind ruby chocolate

glass display of cakes and chocolate

Ruby chocolate has been in development since 2004 according to Callebaut, undergoing years of research and development. In 2009 the Belgian-Swiss cocoa company patented a ‘cocoa-derived material’. They use unfermented or lightly fermented beans that turn a vivid purple during the process.

The actual origin of the special ruby cocoa beans remains a mystery. However, the maker assures that the beans definitely aren’t genetically modified. Originating from Ecuador, Brazil and the Ivory Coast the beans used in Ruby chocolate are grown on the same plant as the beans used to make dark, milk and white chocolate.

Callebaut will only say that the beans have a unique blend of compounds that give them their vibrant lipstick-pink hue.

So why did it take so long for this new chocolate to come to the market? As the patent makes clear, “there is a desire amongst some consumers for cocoa products that have a different colour.”

It seems Callebaut waited until the market was saturated with love for unicorn milkshakes, rainbow bagels and other multi-coloured foodstuffs. With 45% of UK consumers naming chocolate as their most indulgent treat, and 16% looking for a new experience, ruby chocolate is bang on-trend

And intended market fell head over heels with the new confection. There are currently over 75,000 posts with the hashtag #rubychocolate on Instagram.

What does it taste like?

Callebaut describes ruby chocolate as neither bitter, milky or sweet. Tasters have noted flavours of red berries and a sour yogurt tang, along with a delicious creaminess.

It’s a unique taste that combines fruity and citrus notes with the rich decadence of chocolate. This unique flavour only adds to its mystique as the new ‘must have’ chocolate. The actual manufacturing process isn’t significantly different to other types of chocolate. Beans are fermented, dried, roasted and ground to a fine paste known as chocolate liquor before cocoa butter and solids are extracted. They’re then combined in different proportions and with additional flavouring and ingredients to create milk and dark chocolate.

cocoa beans on a cocoa fruit shell

But it’s the fermentation process – or lack of it – that makes ruby chocolate so different. Callebaut claims that the beans it uses have high levels of pigmented polyphenols that account for their vivid ruby hue. He leaves them to ferment for a maximum of three days before processing them. By contrast, we leave our dark chocolate beans to ferment for at least a week. This helps them develop a rich, complex flavour.

So, how do they get the striking pink colour? The chocolate makers treat the barely-fermented beans with acid and use petroleum ether to remove fatty acids and preserve that unique colour. So, rather than being a unique new bean, ruby chocolate seems to be all about the processing choices.

How is it different from white chocolate?

White chocolate is a blend of cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar, with none of the dark cocoa solids. Ruby chocolate, on the other hand, contains around 47.3% cocoa solids. This means that it is more akin to standard milk chocolate in its composition. However, the lack of fermentation means it won’t have the cocoa richness that our milk chocolate does.

However, the high levels of cocoa butter mean that white and ruby chocolate definitely share a luxuriously smooth mouthfeel. It’s the way cocoa butter melts at body temperature that produces that delectable melt in the mouth quality.

Our white chocolate is decadently smooth, rich and creamy. In fact, our vegetarian-friendly white chocolate uses 37% cocoa butter as opposed to ruby chocolate with 29%. The difference is that ruby chocolate has a bright, berry flavour with sour notes and a clean finish.

white chocolate on a plate

When you’re buying any chocolate, always check the ingredients list. A good quality bar will include a variety of cocoa products including solids and butter, sugar, natural flavourings and an emulsifier. If you notice ingredients like palm or vegetable oil, steer clear.

What can I use ruby chocolate for?

Prized as much for its colour as its flavour, ruby chocolate definitely makes its presence known. Fans of Nigella will remember when she created a Chocolate Feast for Masterchef Australia featuring a spectacular ruby chocolate cheesecake.

Callebaut claims that his new type of chocolate has an affinity for a wide range of flavours from caviar and cauliflower to camembert, caramel and wasabi. But you can also use ruby chocolate in more conventional ways to create blondies, cookies, cakes, ganache, truffles and other bakes where you would traditionally use dark, milk or white chocolate.

Like white chocolate, you’ll need to keep an eye on it as it melts to make sure it doesn’t catch, although caramelising ruby chocolate could bring out some tantalising flavours. And it tempers at a lower temperature to dark, milk and white chocolate, between 28.5 – 29.5°C.

Don’t be disappointed when you bake with ruby chocolate as it can lose its signature pink colour when it melts and take on a grey tone.

Does ruby chocolate have any nutritional benefits?

Like all chocolate, the pink variety is derived from cocoa beans that are packed with flavanols. These phytonutrients have a variety of benefits, including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and fighting cellular damage.

The higher the flavanols the bigger the benefits. This makes dark chocolate the best choice if you want to enjoy the antioxidant qualities of premium chocolate for yourself. Try our 100% Dark Chocolate Drops to maximise the effect on cardiovascular health.

As yet, there are no studies on the phytonutrient qualities of ruby chocolate and whether the processing of the beans with acid affects their health benefits.

Alternatives to ruby chocolate

Whether you believe the hype, industry experts believe that this type of chocolate is here to stay.

If you prefer ethically sourced chocolate that’s equally Insta-worthy and never use artificial colours or flavours then our Eton Mess Slab Selector combines swirls of high cocoa butter strawberry and vanilla chocolates with biscuit pieces, meringue and freeze-dried strawberries to create a delectable take on a British classic.

Our Eton Mess Slab Selector is full of fresh berry flavours

And while there’s no vegan ruby chocolate as yet, you can enjoy a Vegan H-Box with the same range of meltingly tender berry, citrus and caramel flavours all wrapped up in our luscious nut milk chocolate.