Ruby Chocolate – the flavor behind the hype

Daddy! It’s PINK chocolate! My three year old daughter’s eyes started to sparkle as I showed the little box I just bought in our local chocolate shop. A bold sign had lured me into buying it. “Try Ruby – the new Belgian chocolate!” focuses on artsian made origin chocolate. I tend to stay away from the industrial/bulk side of chocolate as it doesn’t offer the same exciting flavor palette as in small batch origin chocolate. Yet every now and then, the chocolate world is buzzing about new products. It would only be fair to give it a try and inform the public. And Ruby chocolate is definitely the hype of the moment in chocolate land.

Ruby was presented to the world in September 2017 in Shanghai. It is a chocolate launched by Barry Callebaut, one of the biggest couverture makers in the world. Callebaut declared it to be a new type of chocolate. Next to white, milk and dark, Ruby is the forth official type. The company claims the rather unusual pink color is a result of using painstakingly selected beans called Ruby cocoa. The fresh and fruity flavor and color of of the product is all natural and part of what would make Ruby cocoa so special.

Callebaut published on their website that Ruby chocolate was born from the fact that one of their researchers had discovered how specific components in cocoa beans yielded an aromatic fruity chocolate with a pink hue. These precursors seemed to present in one specific cocoa variety, Ruby cocoa. Harvested in Brazil, Ecuador and Ivory Coast, it would not be the origin who is responsible for the flavor, yet the precursors in the cocoa beans used.

Now this all sounds great and intriguing, yet any chocolate experts place a whole lot a question marks around this Ruby cocoa. Nobody seems to know of a genetic variant of Theobroma Cocoa, designated Ruby cocoa. Further more, up until now, little was known about the cocoa content of the chocolate. Callebaut displays the info of its products on their website, which sheds more light on the matter. Composition: 47,3% cocoa. 29,5% would be cocoa butter and 2,5% fat free cocoa. So we can safely say that it is not the cocoa solids who are important her, yet the cocoa butter used. In normal chocolate, it is the cocoa solids part which is responsible for the wide array of flavors. How can a new product so heavily relying on cocoa butter bring vivid flavors?

Chocolate experts linked this Ruby chocolate to Callebaut’s patents on red cacao filed in 2009. Post harvest handling seems to be key to making the final product. In a nutshell, experts believe that fermentation has been left out of the process in making Ruby chocolate and is replaced by acidifying the cocoa. This keeps the red colors which are naturally present in unfermented cocoa alive. Creating the pink chocolate variety seems to be far away from traditional chocolate making as we know it.

The fine chocolate world is reacting lukewarm. Many despised Ruby well before they had the chance to taste the product. Others were skeptic about the claims made on the cocoa used. Yet it is clear that Callebaut has made Ruby chocolate into a hot item through smart marketing. And it surely will find its way to the end customer through chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Launching in Asia seemed logic If you know this type of product will do well on that specific market. Callebaut even states that it is intended for Millenials – people between 18 and 35 who are looking for new and exciting experiences including all senses.

As a chocolate enthusiast and reviewer, I tend to stay open minded. I didn’t want to write about Ruby chocolate until I could to what I do best. Get my hand on the it and taste the actual product. There are other experts who can inform you better on the process behind Ruby chocolate.

So how does it taste?

The box I bought contains small callets. Almost like candy pieces. The chocolate is a bit dull in looks and doesn’t offer a great shine. Keeping hundreds of callets in bags probably will mess up the aesthetics. Pink it surely is. My daughter wanted to claim it, just because she thinks it look so pretty.

The aroma is clearly sweet white chocolate. No fruits emerge at this moment.

On the palate, the chocolate starts of similar to white chocolate once more. It is sweet, but not overly clingy. The flavor remains stable for a while, buttery with a hint of vanilla. Until out of the blue a clear fruity acidity pops up and cuts through the main flavor. Strawberry comes to mind first. Maybe some red currant. The two flavor tones blend in together and offer a taste reminding me of strawberry ice-cream. Callebaut does deliver on their claim of fruitiness and creaminess. It is the first time I detect a flavor evolution in an industrial chocolate. Yet the excitement doesn’t linger however. The flavor tones are not complex and feel a bit one dimensional. They aren’t even as intense as in some small batch made origin chocolates. And after a while they even become a bit dull and predictable. Further sampling doesn’t reveal any new nuances. The afterflavor is white chocolaty and short lived.

Ruby chocolate is the thing of the moment. I’m glad I tried the product personally, but I can’t say I’m wild about it. To me it doesn’t surprise me enough and I’m missing the complexity a good origin chocolate can bring to the palate. It is surrounded with mystery and big words, yet to me the flavor simply can’t keep up with the expectation created.

For me, the main problem with Ruby chocolate is that the fruity flavors so raved about by Callebaut, can be find in numerous other chocolates. It is one of the reasons why I fell in love with origin chocolate. Madagascar is an origin offering wild red and citrus fruit flavors for example. But fruits are not the only flavors to be found in good cocoa. Think wood, spices, yellow fruits, earthy aroma’s, floral notes. It can all be there. It doesn’t require a special process, specific colorful chocolate or made up special cocoa bean. The company plays a trick on people making them believe that white/milk/dark chocolate should taste a certain way, while the number of flavor notes offered in small batch origin chocolates seems to be endless and very diverse. Yet most customers aren’t even aware of this.

There will be a market for it and people will enjoy it, yet there are so many chocolates out there who will outshine this particular one with ease. But by all means, try it for yourself and form your own opinion on the hottest chocolate product at the moment.

Price: € 3,30 – 100g (chocolaterie Dossche – De Pinte – Belgium)


Callebaut – release Ruby Chocolate

Callebaut – Ruby RB 1 page (Dutch)

All about that Ruby chocolate – The Chocolate Journalist (Sharon Terenzi)

Chocolaterie Dossche

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