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- In 2017, chocolatier Barry Callebaut brought a fourth kind of chocolate to the market (after milk, dark, and white): ruby.
- Ruby chocolate has a citrusy flavor and is made from a special type of cocoa bean.
- The naturally pink and tangy chocolate can be eaten alone or used to transform homemade baked goods.
The history of chocolate is a rich and delicious one. In 2017, chocolatiers at Barry Callebaut introduced a new player: ruby chocolate. The chocolate is naturally pink and has a citrusy flavor unique among the familiar milk, dark, and white chocolates. In fact, at first bite, you may find the taste jarring – the smooth, milky taste of chocolate followed by an acidic tang.
We spoke with Domenica Lazo, the assistant operations chef for Barry Callebaut, and then tried two brands of ruby chocolate for ourselves. We wanted to answer two big questions: what is ruby chocolate and how can home bakers use it? After baking cookies and consulting the experts, we think ruby chocolate is great for adventurous bakers, but not beginner ones.
What is ruby chocolate?
Ruby chocolate is a type of chocolate – just like milk, dark, and white – with a pink hue and a signature citrusy, berry-forward flavor. It is sold as bars or in chips or disks.
“If you’ve ever tasted a cocoa bean or cocoa bean pulp, it kind of encompasses what that is,” says Lazo. “It’s very smooth, creamy, it’s acidic, it has notes of berry and it has a little bit of citrus. It’s unlike any chocolate you’ve tried.”
What makes ruby chocolate pink is the specific type of cocoa bean they use to make the chocolate – dubbed the ‘ruby bean’ – and its fermentation process. This bean is specifically harvested for ruby chocolate.
After discovering that the ruby bean had a special molecule or compound, the company began a testing process that lasted over 10 years, and ruby chocolate wasn’t introduced to the global market until late 2017.
How is ruby chocolate made?
Producing ruby chocolate is a bit more complicated than traditional chocolate and is not as well known due to confidentiality agreements from Barry Callebaut. They begin by testing each cocoa bean – which are typically grown in Ecuador, Brazil, or the Ivory Coast – to see if they meet the right qualifications to produce the ruby chocolate.
Once the beans are harvested, the production process aligns with other types of chocolate. The beans are removed from the cocoa pod, collected, and fermented. These beans are then dried and roasted to produce nibs.
These nibs are pressed or ground into cocoa liquor, a fluid, bitter form of chocolate. This cocoa liquor goes through the process of conching, which helps refine the chocolate’s flavor to mix it with any extra ingredients like sugar, cocoa butter, and citric acid.
The production process will differ depending on the type of cocoa bean, or pod, and the manufacturer’s goals. According to Barry Callebaut, the key factors they consider when making ruby chocolate are the fermentation process, temperature, conching time, and acidity level.
How does ruby chocolate compare to other chocolates?
Ruby chocolate is one of the most acidic chocolates on the market, adding to its flavor complexity. According to Lazo, ruby chocolate’s high pH level makes it even more sensitive to all the factors that can affect traditional chocolate: light, temperature, oxygen, and water.
High temperatures, blending with ingredients, or overmanipulating the chocolate can turn the ruby color to gray-ish pink. Because of this, Lazo and Barry Callebaut advise against baking it, and instead prefer to use it in confections or as a topping.
When used in confections, it acts very similarly to white chocolate, Lazo says. Treat it as a unique, flavorful version of the well-known classic.
We tested ruby chocolate by sampling, baking, and melting the chips and bars
Because of its complexity, the team here at Insider had to try it for ourselves. We received a sample of Callabaut’s signature RB1 chips and two ruby chocolate bars from Chocolove.
As Lazo said, we found that ruby chocolate acts a lot like white chocolate. The two chocolates have similar melting points and tempering temperatures, but we were surprised by how the flavor worked similarly as well. Though ruby chocolate has that distinct citrus kick, it can get lost in desserts with other dominant ingredients. When we used the RB1 chips in chocolate chip cookies, the flavor was overpowered by the rich, buttery dough.
The Barry-Callebaut website doesn’t recommend baking the chocolate. They label it as “not bake-stable,” referring to how the chocolate loses its bright color when baked. As Lazo warned, the ruby chips did become a duller pink after baking. However, when we melted the chocolate, it didn’t lose any color. It melts quickly on fairly low heat, so as long as you keep an eye on it, the bright color should remain intact.
Where can you buy ruby chocolate?
Barry-Callebaut and Chocolove are the main purveyors of pure ruby chocolate. While Chocolove is available at local grocery stores, you’ll need to check out a nearby baking supply store for Callebaut products.
You can find ruby chocolate bars, not meant for baking, at other confectionaries. Some standouts include a raspberry and pistachio Bar from Lolli & Pops and a pack of three Belgian bars from Flair Chocolatiers.
The bottom line
While this chocolate isn’t too tricky to work with, you’ll need some know-how to keep the color bright and the flavor potent. Novelty gift bars are perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth, but the ruby chocolate chips are best for a more experienced home baker.