What is ruby chocolate? How is it made and why is it pink?

by | Nov 16, 2022 | Chocolate Facts

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Pink chocolate will make your taste buds go wild! The flavor profile is quite different from other chocolates, so you’ll have to give it a taste and see what you think. For some reason, pink makes everything taste much better. Maybe because it’s such a unique chocolate color or maybe just because it’s pink!

You’re about to discover everything there is to know about ruby chocolate, so let’s get learning! 

Who invented ruby chocolate?

With more than 175 years of experience in sourcing and manufacturing, Barry Callebaut, based in Switzerland, is one of the world’s largest chocolate makers.   They surprised the chocolate world with the announcement and release of “ruby”, the fourth chocolate type (dark, milk and white being the other three). Ruby chocolate is characterized by its pink color and fruity flavor.

After many years of development and trials, Barry Callebaut developed a new process to bring out the natural qualities of this cocoa bean which is grown in the Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil.  It’s unknown whether there is something special about the cacao varietal that they use or if it’s all in the treatment of the ingredients.  We will explain…

Why is ruby chocolate pink?

Barry Callebaut states that its pink color is completely natural, but how can that be if the cocoa beans are brown.  Well, it turns out that the cocoa beans don’t start that way – most beans actually start out with a deep purple color.  The fermentation and roasting process is what changes the cocoa beans from purple to brown.  So, what happens if the beans are not fermented nor roasted and you turn them into chocolate?  Well, you will probably end up with an exceptionally bitter, dark purple chocolate that is hardly edible.  So, how do you get to pink chocolate?

It turns out that the color precursors that are naturally present in the unprocessed cacao bean are sensitive to acid level, and as the acidity increases, the purple color slowly shifts to red (by the way, this is not unique to cacao beans and you can do the same with purple cabbage – try squeezing some lemon juice on thinly sliced purple cabbage and see what happens).  It’s therefore believed that Barry Callebaut uses unfermented cocoa beans treated with citric acid to create a unique pink color.  So by adding a very small quantity of “red” cocoa beans to a white chocolate recipe,  Barry Callebaut was able to generate this pink tone without the addition of any colorants.  Only a small amount of color shifted cocoa beans are used since the flavor from these “raw” beans is very intense and could negatively impact the chocolate flavor if a lot was used.

What does ruby chocolate taste like?

Ruby chocolate is marketed with different levels of intensity, just like the marketing around dark chocolate. Its flavor is quite unique and different — smooth like white chocolate, but with a fruity punch that comes with a hint of berries or red fruits.  The addition of citric acid (this is what gives lemons their sour taste) is primarily responsible for the sour zing, while the unfermented cocoa beans add a hint of fruitiness.  

What is ruby chocolate made out of?

Discovering how ruby chocolate is actually made is pretty difficult as Barry Callebaut is very secretive about the recipe, so as to protect it from competitors. But they do share the ingredients list on the package (required by law), which gives some hints as to the process and composition.  The ingredients are sugar, cocoa butter, skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier, soya lecithin, citric acid, and vanilla flavoring.  For those who have made chocolate at home, you will recognize the ingredients as being quite similar to milk chocolate, with the exception of citric acid. The first three ingredients are the primary ingredients in white chocolate.  So, you might consider ruby chocolate to be white chocolate with a touch of red “cocoa mass”, which probably isn’t far off the mark based on the ingredient list and order of ingredients.

The future of ruby chocolate

Even though ruby chocolate was released in 2017, many people are still not aware of its existence.  It seems that ruby chocolate hasn’t quite created the shock waves Barry Callebaut was expecting. Nonetheless, a few chocolate industry experts claim ruby chocolate will be on par if not bigger than white chocolate in the next 20 years.  And if you want to try it out, see if you can track down the ruby chocolate Kit Kat bar in your local grocery store.

When you get a chance to taste it, we’d love to hear what you think of ruby chocolate! Let us know on our social media channels. We are @cocoterra_co on Instagram and Pinterest and @cocoterraco on Twitter and Facebook.

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