Ruby Chocolate Is the Newest and Pinkest Type of Chocolate
As established by the immense popularity of rosé and the growing trend of unicorn foods everywhere, color sells — especially the shade that is dubbed “millennial pink.” So it was only a matter of time for the chocolate industry to gravitate towards a new type of chocolate — one that has a blush color and fruity flavor. The latest chocolate invention, which is the first chocolate to be added to the exclusive club of milk, white, and dark chocolate in over 80 years, is called ruby chocolate. Barry Callebaut, one of the world’s largest chocolate producers, claims to be responsible for introducing this pastel pink iteration of chocolate.
“In terms of functionality, ruby is very similar to white chocolate. However, it is a totally new taste experience. Ruby has an intense fruity flavor and slightly sour profile,” said TJ Mulvihill, the VP of marketing for America’s branch of Barry Callebaut.
The chocolate is allegedly made from pure cocoa beans that are processed using a unique proprietary method; the berry flavor and unique color occur naturally. The price, however, seems comparable to other fancy chocolates, with bars from Chocolove — which makes a plain ruby chocolate bar, a passion fruit one, and a pink grapefruit flavor — clocking in at around $8 per bar. Don’t expect to find any dollar ruby chocolates just yet. Creamistry, the hand-crafted liquid nitrogen ice cream chain, is among the first dessert shops to put the newly arrived ingredient to the test. “Ruby chocolate has a fruity, berry note to the taste with a slight citrus after-note, accompanied with the smooth, decadent feel of chocolate,” Jay Yim, the founder of Creamistry, shared. “Creamistry’s ruby chocolate ice cream brings out the natural vibrant color and decadent richness that ruby chocolate is known for.”
Although ruby chocolate wants to be included in the chocolate family and has translated well in ice cream form, it isn’t suitable for all applications of chocolate, including baking. According to Mulvihill, ruby chocolate’s most suitable use is to indulge in its purest bar form and is not yet “bake stable or suitable for extrusion.” That doesn’t mean that ruby chocolate can’t find a home among baked goods; Mulvihill has favored ruby chocolate for confectionery, claiming that ruby can be used for enrobing and decorating pastries and cakes. Kit-Kat has taken notice, and has launched their own ruby chocolate covered wafers in the UK that will allegedly “give your taste buds a tantalizingly [sic] intense sensorial experience.”
Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the introduction of ruby chocolate, however. Chocolate blogger Sharon Terenzi has described it as a “questionable product born to catch the eye, create buzz, and nothing more.” She writes that “[ruby chocolate] doesn’t contribute to the elevation of chocolate as fine food, nor stimulates consumers to look over its aesthetics.” The reason for that has to do with lack of transparency from Barry Callebaut; though the company shares that the cocoa beans come from Ecuador, Brazil, and the Ivory Coast, there is no additional information about sourcing or processing the chocolate, leading some chocolate experts to question whether or not this is an elaborate gimmick at best or a controversial and potentially damaging dessert at worst.
And it’s not just the lack of transparency that has some rethinking the motivation to introduce a new type of chocolate. Peter Boone, the chief innovation and quality officer of Barry Callebaut, has mentioned that “Consumer research in very different markets confirms that ruby chocolate not only satisfies a new consumer need found among millennials — hedonistic indulgence — but also high purchase intent at different price points.” Simply put, ruby chocolate’s main purpose — like many other trendy foods and drinks — is to look Instagrammable and pretty, while flavor seems to be an afterthought. Overall, it seems like a novelty.
That doesn’t mean that the unique flavor and innovation isn’t there. Reporting from Business Insider noted that the berry flavor of ruby chocolate was “really present” and brands like Trader Joe’s have been quick to add ruby chocolate to its repertoire of goods (though Trader Joe’s ruby chocolate wafers were only offered during February for Valentine’s Day and are not currently for sale). We’re waiting to see whether reinventions of classic chocolate treats, like ruby brownies, ruby chocolate chip cookies, and ruby hot chocolate, will start popping up.
Only time will tell whether ruby chocolate will truly be accepted into the classic chocolate pantheon or cast off as a trendy misfit, but for now, the pleasantly pink confectionery continues to create buzz and stir the chocolate pot.