If you haven’t paid attention, you may have missed the appearance of a new type of chocolate: ruby chocolate. Developed in 2017 by a Swiss chocolate maker, this variety officially became the fourth type of chocolate, after white, dark and milk chocolate.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice
Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut is a household name in the chocolate world. The company not only supplies chocolate to Nestlé, Hershey, Unilever and Mondelez, but many top restaurants and professionals use Callebaut for its classic taste that has remained unchanged for decades – and the company still uses whole grain roasting. , instead of roasting cocoa beans, like 100 years ago. But Callebaut also likes to try new things.
The variety has been in study for over 10 years, since chocolate experts at Barry Callebaut noticed that the components of some cocoa beans could produce chocolate with an unusual color and flavor. Like grapes for good wine, these cocoa beans had to be selected and cared for in particular climatic conditions. According to Callebaut, these conditions can be found in Ecuador, Brazil or Ivory Coast.
While the exact method of producing ruby chocolate is a trade secret, some publications believe they have zoomed in on the source of ruby cocoa: the beans of a variety called Brazil Lavados, which may have a natural pinkish color and a sour and delicate taste. The beans take on a more intense color after being treated with an acid, and after being defatted (a standard process in the chocolate industry), they revert to a true pink color.
It is the first new type of chocolate developed over 80 years after the introduction of white chocolate in 1936. Ruby chocolate also has a unique taste. It is completely different from dark or milk chocolate, and only slightly resembles white chocolate, but has a berry-like flavor and a slight tart aftertaste. It’s not too sweet and carries a slight overall aroma.
“Ruby chocolate is an intense sensory delight. A tension between the fruitiness of the berries and the succulent sweetness, ”they write in a press release. “Ruby chocolate is made from the Ruby cocoa bean; Through a unique treatment, Barry Callebaut releases the flavor and color tone naturally present in the Ruby bean. No berry or berry flavor is added. No color is added.
Of course, developing the first new type of chocolate in almost a century can pay off a lot of money, in addition to being bragging about. So many people, including ourselves, were skeptical and thought it could be little more than marketing. However, several studies analyzing ruby chocolate have noted its peculiarities.
The science of ruby chocolate
A 2019 study compared ruby chocolate to its dark, white and milk counterparts. The researchers noted that ruby chocolate has a different phenol content than all other types of chocolate (phenols are slightly acidic aromatics), ranging somewhere between milk chocolate and white chocolate. The researchers also added that ruby chocolate has a higher content of specific compounds (such as flavan-3-ols and proanthocyanidins).
However, when the researchers subjected the chocolate to a sensory evaluation, they found that ruby chocolate was the least desirable type of chocolate among those that had been tried; it even did less well than white chocolate with added berries.
“The panel consisted of 20 trained staff, 15 women and 5 men, who had previous experience in evaluating confectionery products,” the study reads.
“Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate obtained the highest score for the distinctive chocolate smell, while for the same attribute, Ruby chocolate was rated as the least preferable chocolate. Strawberry White Chocolate was used due to similar sensory characteristics to Ruby chocolate in taste and fruity odor, and scored higher compared to Ruby. The highest intensity of acidity was determined in Ruby chocolate, which is its main characteristic. All of the estimated sensory attributes were rated as the best for semi-sweet chocolate, while Ruby chocolate was the least acceptable chocolate.
Another study from 2021 confirmed the distinctive chemical components of ruby chocolate, analyzing its chemistry in unprecedented detail.
“The data shows that a wide range of phytochemicals, present in ‘conventional’ dark and milk chocolates, are also present in ruby chocolate. Most interesting is the discovery that proanthocyanidins [a class of polyphenols found in many plants, such as cranberry, blueberry, and grape seeds] type A appear to be characteristic of ruby chocolate, while type B proanthocyanidins have been found primarily in dark chocolate, ”the study said.
The researchers basically confirmed that ruby chocolate is indeed a separate type of chocolate.
“Ruby chocolate contained higher levels of epicatechin and procyanidin B2, compared to milk chocolate, which may be the result of shorter or no fermentation of the cocoa bean raw material used for production. ruby chocolate, and ruby chocolate was the only chocolate in which caffeic acid could be quantified, ”the team noted.
However, the team made no complaints regarding the quality or general appeal of ruby chocolate. Overall, although genetically, the cocoa beans used to produce ruby chocolate are not genetically different from others used to create other types of chocolate, the way they are selected and processed leads to a product that is indeed chemically distinct.
The future of ruby chocolate
So where does that leave ruby chocolate? The product is still relatively new, but it has already entered quite a few markets. The first mainstream release took place in January 2018, when it was introduced as a new flavor of Kit Kat in Japan and South Korea. Nestlé, the makers of Kit Kat, had an exclusive 6-month agreement for the use of pink chocolate, but it has since expired and several companies in different countries have already started selling pink chocolate products. It’s not just pure chocolate, either. For example, Magnum sells ice cream bars dipped in ruby chocolate, while Costa and Starbucks each sell ruby chocolate drinks. It’s not really mainstream and its relatively low supply still limits production and distribution, but ruby chocolate seems to be spreading.
Regulators also take it seriously. The United States Food and Drug Administration, for example, has established a standard for ruby chocolate: it must contain at least 1.5% non-fat cocoa solids and at least 20% cocoa fat by weight. It also cannot contain flavors that mimic milk, butter, fruit, or additional coloring.
It remains to be seen whether ruby chocolate will really become a staple, but so far the future looks bright. It will likely retain its novelty or delicacy status for a while, but it’s not unlikely to become as diverse as white chocolate.
However, it will likely be in the throes of what many experts see as a chocolate crisis on the horizon. Cocoa beans require very specific conditions (and ruby beans even more), and climate change is increasingly reducing their habitat, essentially pushing producers into a corner. If you ever needed another reason to fight climate change, here it is: it’s coming for our chocolate.