What is it and where to buy it
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
- In 2017, chocolatier Barry Callebaut launched a fourth type of chocolate (after milk, dark and white): ruby.
- Ruby chocolate has a citrus flavor and is made from a special type of cocoa beans.
- The naturally pink and tangy chocolate can be eaten on its own or used to transform homemade baked goods.
The history of chocolate is rich and delicious. In 2017, the Barry Callebaut chocolatiers introduced a new player: ruby chocolate. The chocolate is naturally pink and has a citrus flavor unique among the familiar milk, dark and white chocolates. In fact, at the first bite, you can find the jarring taste – the sweet, milky taste of chocolate followed by a sour flavor.
We spoke with Domenica Lazo, Barry Callebaut’s assistant chief operating officer, 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 with experts, we think Ruby Chocolate is ideal for adventurous bakers, but not for beginners.
What is Ruby Chocolate?
Ruby chocolate is a type of chocolate – just like milk, dark and white – with a pink hue and a characteristic citrus and berry flavor. It is sold in the form of bars or chips or discs.
“If you’ve ever tasted a cocoa bean or cocoa bean pulp, that kind of encompasses what it is,” Lazo says. “It’s very smooth, creamy, sour, it has hints of berries and a bit of citrus. It’s unlike any chocolate you’ve tried.”
What makes ruby chocolate pink is the specific type of cocoa beans 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, Barry Callebaut began a testing process that lasted more than 10 years, and ruby chocolate was not introduced to the global market until the end of 2017.
How is ruby chocolate made?
The production of ruby chocolate is a bit more complicated than traditional chocolate and is not as well known due to Barry Callebaut confidentiality agreements. They start by testing each cocoa bean – which is usually grown in Ecuador, Brazil or the Ivory Coast – to see if it meets the right qualifications to produce 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 flavor of the chocolate to mix it with additional 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, which adds to the complexity of its flavor. According to Lazo, the high pH of ruby chocolate makes it even more sensitive to all the factors that can affect traditional chocolate: light, temperature, oxygen and water.
High temperatures, mixing with ingredients, or excessive handling of the chocolate can turn the ruby color to a grayish pink. For this reason, Lazo and Barry Callebaut advise against baking it and instead prefer to use it in confections or as a filling.
When used in confections, it acts very similar to white chocolate, Lazo says. Treat it as a unique and flavorful take on the well-known classic.
We tested ruby chocolate by sampling, cooking and melting the nuggets and bars
Due to its complexity, the Insider team had to try it out 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 much like white chocolate. Both chocolates have similar melting points and tempering temperatures, but we were surprised by how the flavor worked similarly as well. Although ruby chocolate has that distinct citrus taste, it can get lost in desserts with other overpowering ingredients. When we used the RB1 chips in the chocolate chip cookies, the flavor was dominated by the rich, buttery batter.
The Barry-Callebaut website does not recommend baking the chocolate. They label it as “non-bake stable”, referring to how chocolate loses its bright color when baked. As Lazo warned, the ruby chips turned a duller pink after firing. However, when we melted the chocolate, it did not lose color. It melts quickly on fairly low heat, so as long as you keep an eye on it, the bright color should stay intact.
Where can you buy ruby chocolate?
Barry-Callebaut and Chocolove are the main suppliers of pure ruby chocolate. Although Chocolove is available at local grocery stores, you will need to visit a nearby bakery supply store for Callebaut products.
You can find ruby chocolate bars, not intended for baking, in other confectioneries. Must-haves 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 hard to work with, you’ll need some skill to keep the color bright and the flavor strong. Fancy gift bars are great for anyone with a sweet tooth, but ruby chocolate chips are best for a more experienced home baker.