Until very recently, there were only three types of chocolate: dark, milk and white. But after being featured in season 10 of The great British pastry fairmore people are talking about blush-colored chocolate called ruby chocolate.
Ruby chocolate sure looks nice, but since it’s so new, most people have no idea what’s in it, how it tastes, and how to use it. But the sweet concoction is no mystery to chocolate experts Gordon Clay (creator of The Chocolate Life) and Jennifer Earle (founder of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours and podcast host The next delicious thing). Luckily, they’re open to sharing (facts at least, not necessarily dessert).
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What is Ruby Chocolate?
Gordon explains that for thousands of years, chocolate was one color: brown. “It was different shades of dark brown until the 1870s, when milk chocolate was invented, when a whole range of light brown colors were added to the chocolate color palette,” he says. In 1937 Gordon says white chocolate was introduced. But it wasn’t until 2017 that ruby chocolate was invented.
“The ruby was invented after someone asked the question ‘Why chocolate have to be brunette? says Gordon. He explains that fresh cacao nibs – from the plant used to make chocolate – are usually dark purple. “After years of experimentation – which involved changing the way the seeds were treated after harvest and altering the manufacturing processes in the factory – there is now a new color in the chocolate palette and that is a shade of dusty rose,” he says. And all this thanks to a single company: Barry Callebaut.
Earle explains that Ruby Chocolate is a patented product owned by Barry Callebaut; all real ruby chocolate comes from them, and it’s made with cocoa beans, milk, sugar, and citric acid. Gordon says chocolate is naturally light pink; no artificial coloring is added. While the real ruby chocolate comes from Barry Callebaut, Gordon says the company chose not to trademark the name, so you may see other companies using the term as well. “It’s possible to make something that looks and tastes like ruby chocolate that isn’t actually real ruby chocolate,” he says. “The trick is to look at the ingredient list. If you see anything that looks like white chocolate with flavorings and colorings, it’s not real ruby chocolate.
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At first, the Food and Drug Administration did not recognize ruby chocolate as real chocolate. “In the United States Code of Federal Regulations, there is a definition of ingredients that dark, milk, and white chocolate can and cannot contain. Ruby contains ingredients that are not on this list and therefore legally cannot be labeled chocolate,” says Gordon.
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The ingredient in question, he said, was citric acid. Gordon explains that citric acid is used after cocoa nibs are harvested to help them retain their vibrant color. “Barry Callebaut had to apply to the FDA for a temporary marketing license that would allow them to label ‘ruby’ as chocolate,” says Gordon. Now the FDA recognizes it as real chocolate.
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What does Ruby chocolate taste like and what can it be used for?
“Ruby chocolate tastes like white chocolate sweetened with raspberry,” Earle explains. She says the sourness of the citric acid gives it a tart, fruity edge. “You don’t get the flavor notes that you would typically get from commercial milk or dark chocolate that contains cocoa solids,” she says. Earle says that sometimes premium chocolate has a slight fruity taste due to the careful fermentation of the seeds of the cacao fruit, which has the fruit wrapped around them during fermentation.
Due to its slightly fruity taste, one might think that it can be used to make delicious raspberry flavored muffins, white chocolate and other baked goods. While it may taste good, Gordon says you can’t cook with ruby chocolate because it can’t withstand high temperatures. “It will oxidize and turn gray,” he says.
Instead of cooking with it, Gordon recommends using it as a candy filling, in frosting, in frostings, in ice cream, and as a topping. “Because ruby chocolate is naturally fruity — most people describe its taste as a cross between strawberries and raspberries — the natural thing to do is pair it with fruit,” he says. “I’ve seen ruby chocolate used to make confections with fruit, including passion fruit, raspberries, raisins, and bananas,” he adds. “Tropical nuts like macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts are also good choices.”
Before the arrival of ruby chocolate, it had been 80 years since a new type of chocolate had been introduced to the world. With its own unique flavor profile and beautiful color, it’s easy to see why it’s trending. When it comes to sweet foods, you could say ruby chocolate is a, well, gem.
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