Described as the fourth kind of chocolate (after white, milk and dark), ruby chocolate has been getting mouths watering since Barry Callebaut, one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, unveiled the dark pink bar – the result of more than a decade’s work – in September last year. You’ve probably seen pink chocolate before – flavoured with berries or tinted with food colouring, for example – but the crucial point of difference here is that ruby chocolate is made naturally, without artificial colours, flavours or additives. The alluring pink comes courtesy of ruby cocoa beans, which are grown in Brazil, Ecuador and the Ivory Coast.
“The technicalities of working with cocoa beans to create something as different as ruby chocolate, not just in terms of the pink colour, but also the strong strawberry flavour, is quite interesting to understand as a chocolate-maker,” Kathy Johnston, chief chocolate officer at Mirzam Chocolate in Dubai, says of the trend. She goes on to explain that the colour of the chocolate will be determined by the way the cocoa beans are treated and selected.
“Before they are fermented, cocoa beans can be quite light, with purple tones. Once fermentation begins, they start to become darker in colour and the chocolate flavour really develops. I’d love to know how they [the Callebaut group] are doing this exactly, and if they are using one of the expensive high-end optical sorting machines to select the cocoa beans based on colour.”
A matter of taste
The consensus among both expert samplers and casual nibblers is that ruby chocolate tastes quite different from the chocolate that has come before it, with most people identifying a fruity, berry-like note and highlighting a slightly sour, acidic finish.
The Callebaut group describes the flavour of its ruby chocolate as “a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness”, while Rowan Kamel, creative brand director at online cake and dessert delivery service SugarMoo, says: “It’s a very light chocolate, almost like white chocolate’s new sister, but not as sweet and with a tart fruitiness at the end.” SugarMoo is the first company in the UAE to source and incorporate ruby chocolate into its dishes.
Try the trend
A type of ruby chocolate known as Ruby RB1, aimed at chocolatiers and pastry chefs, was introduced to the Middle Eastern market at a launch event in October. Representatives from Forrey & Galland are reported to have been among those keen to get creative with the new ingredient, so you may see ruby chocolate dishes appearing on its menus soon.
SugarMoo currently sells two ruby-chocolate desserts that Kamel says are designed to showcase the distinct flavour. “Firstly, we wanted to give people the opportunity to taste the chocolate in its purest form, so we created a ruby truffle. Then it was important to come up with a dessert with a funky signature SugarMoo vibe, so we settled on ruby rocky road, which, thanks to us using a blondie brownie instead of a dark chocolate one, still accentuates rather than overshadows the ruby flavour.”
Nestle Middle East, meanwhile, introduced the Kit Kat Ruby Chocolate to the region at Sole DXB earlier this month. It features the signature wafers coated in a light layer of pink, ruby chocolate. It has also debuted in the United Kingdom, Korea and Japan, where it is said to be proving particularly popular. If this has piqued your interest, you can order bars on Desert Cart, although be warned, the estimated delivery date isn’t until mid-January.
What to do it with it
Once you get your hands on some of the sweet stuff, before you eat it, pause, take a picture and put it up on social media. After all, Barry Callebaut has made no secret of the fact that its target audience is very much the Instagram generation, citing that by putting ruby chocolate on the market, the aim is to fulfil a millennial need for “hedonistic indulgence”. And while you may argue that millennials shouldn’t have all the fun and even wonder just how hedonistic a bar of chocolate can be, there’s no denying that thanks to that pop of pink, it does look good on the grid.
A word of caution when it comes to munching, though: ruby chocolate seems to melt on the tongue faster than other types, which could mean you end up eating more of it.