Ruby chocolate made its global debut in September 2017 when Barry Callebaut, a Belgian-Swiss cocoa company, unveiled the fourth type of chocolate at a private event in Shanghai, China. Nestlé was the first major chocolate maker to hop on to the ruby chocolate bandwagon with KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby. While this pink-coloured KitKat was introduced to the Japanese, Korean, Australian and UK markets in early 2018, the Indian market was yet to get a taste of ruby chocolate.
The wait finally came to an end in November 2018 when Fabelle, a homegrown luxury chocolate brand from the ITC Group, launched Ruby Gianduja, India’s first ruby chocolate-based product. Celebrity chef Sarah Todd and Fabelle’s master chocolatier, Chef Ruby Islam, give a lowdown on everything you need to know about ruby chocolate including how it gets its pink colour.
Flavour & Texture
Describing the flavour of this new type of chocolate, Chef Todd says it is “slightly tart” and she loves its “creamy and smooth texture” the most. Meanwhile, Chef Islam compares its flavour to that of raspberries but less tart.
If you’re waiting to experiment with ruby chocolate in your chocolate recipes, the experts recommend some ingredients that work well with it. “When using an ingredient with a strong flavour, like ruby chocolate in this case, it is important to balance out the flavours and not overpower them. To achieve this, I’d go with ingredients that have a completely different flavour profile,” explains Chef Todd.
Szechuan peppercorn is the first ingredient that came to Chef Todd’s mind. “Apart from that, different kinds of nuts, spices and sesame seeds will also go well with ruby chocolate,” she adds. Chef Islam suggests pairing it with tropical fruits such as pineapple or passion fruit. “These foods will help carry the flavour of ruby chocolate,” she explains.
Talking of making the most of ruby chocolate’s flavours brought us to the important question of wine pairings with ruby chocolate. Chef Todd says she would ideally pair it with two kinds of wine. “First, a dessert wine with citrus notes to balance out the chocolate. Second, recommended for a laid-back afternoon, is a wine with peppery notes – something that cuts through the sweetness of ruby chocolate and treats your taste buds with a savoury flavour.” Chef Todd recommends skipping full-bodied wines with ruby chocolate because you won’t be able to taste the chocolate at all.
Brief History of Chocolate
While the use of chocolate as an edible substance can be traced back to 1900 BC, its origin in the bar form as we know it today began in the late 19th century in England. The first solid dark chocolate bar was invented in 1847 by a British chocolate maker. This was followed by the invention of solid milk chocolate bars in 1875 by a Swiss confectioner with the help of Nestlé’s founder. Skeptics are yet to accept white chocolate as a type of chocolate but this chocolate’s invention dates back to the 1930s with exact details of its inventor unknown.
Eighty years after the third type of chocolate was introduced, the world can now devour a fourth type of chocolate – ruby chocolate. In development since 2004, ruby chocolate has been created by Barry Callebaut, one of the largest cocoa producers and grinders in the world. According to the company, this chocolate is made using ruby cocoa beans sourced from Brazil, Ecuador and Ivory Coast. While the beans used for ruby chocolate are not a new variety, Chef Islam explains that “these cocoa beans have certain qualities that qualify them to be converted into ruby chocolate.”
A Study in Pink
After its launch, ruby chocolate was lapped up by millennials in no time. Its colour was a treat for Insta-genic pictures and its flavour offered a new experience in taste. On the other hand, chocolate connoisseurs around the world weren’t so easily convinced. They had their doubts about how ruby chocolate was made. Some critics thought it was a marketing hoax, while others believed it was simply flavoured chocolate with millennial pink food colouring.
Unlike the other types of chocolate, the ruby chocolate recipe is currently a trade secret. Except for the experts at Barry Callebaut, no one knows the process of making this type of chocolate. A commonly accepted theory suggests that ruby chocolate could be made from unfermented cocoa beans, unlike the fermented cocoa beans used for regular chocolate. According to the theory, it is this difference that lends ruby chocolate its bubblegum pink colour. To validate this theory, one of UK’s leading tabloids had stated that Barry Callebaut registered a patent in 2009 for cocoa-derived material made from unfermented cocoa beans.
Lending some clarity to the pink mystery, Chef Islam explains, “Ruby chocolate is made with the same fermentation process as the other types of chocolate. However, the process is controlled to an extent to ensure the beans get their distinctive reddish-pink colour and intense flavour.” Beyond industry secrets, what Chef Islam wants consumers to know is that “the process of making ruby chocolate is totally natural and does not involve additional fruits, flavours or colourants to enhance it.”
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