There’s an abundance of chocolate available on the market; white, dark, milk, praline, nutty, fruity, crispy and all the rest… but have you heard of ruby or red chocolate? If you’re on social media, chances are that you’ve heard of KitKat and their pink version of the famous chocolate made from ruby cocoa beans.
Ruby chocolate, also known as red or pink chocolate, took the UK by storm in 2018 and was the first new colour of chocolate to be introduced since white chocolate was brought out over 80 years ago. This was a fantastic revelation that really did take the UK by storm.
But what exactly is ruby chocolate and where does it come from? Introduced in 2017 and unveiled in Japan, ruby chocolate had been in development by a Belgian-Swiss cocoa company, Barry Callebaut since 2004. Barry Callebaut is famously one of the world's largest cocoa producers and grinders, known for their high-quality chocolate brands and delicious creations.
Ruby chocolate is famously made from what’s known as the ruby cocoa bean. These special and somewhat rare beans are existing botanicals and contain the right attributes to be processed into ruby chocolate with the taste being described as sweet yet sour. Obviously still tasty enough to eat! They are natural and grow like any other type of bean, but simply contain a little more colour than the rest.
As mentioned above, ruby chocolate is made from a very special type of cocoa bean that is currently only found in Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil. The reason that it makes naturally pink confectionary is because of the powder that’s extracted when the rare bean is processed.
The reason that ruby beans are pretty rare is that regular chocolate that we all know and love is usually made up of different dyes – both chemical and natural – in order to achieve their colouring. While the ruby bean provides its distinctive colour without being modified in any way.
In terms of dietary requirements, the question on many people’s lips is, is ruby chocolate vegan? The ruby cocoa bean is a raw material and is completely natural, so as long as it’s used alongside other natural products, it can be used to create vegan foods.
When it comes to being dairy free, those looking to avoid milk may also be in luck. It is also possible to create confectionary from ruby chocolate that doesn’t contain milk, but this would be down to the individual manufacturer and the process that they use. It’s essentially the same as any other type of chocolate; if used without milk and with a dairy alternative, it’s dairy free.
Of course, the best way to find the answer to this question would be to try some for yourself, but as many chocolate lovers are finding, this is easier said than done due to the difficulty involved in getting your hands on it. Especially after the rapid sales of the pink KitKat. In a nutshell, ruby chocolate is described as being sweet but sour in flavour.
However, the Switzerland based company that conceived ruby chocolate described the flavour as an entirely new taste experience, not bitter, milky, or sweet, but instead, a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness. It may sound delicious to some, while to others, it could be a bit of an acquired taste. But ultimately, it must be tasted to be truly experienced.
And while the rare cocoa bean is behind the unique colouring and flavour, genetic modification has been denied by Barry Callebaut due to speculation within the chocolate industry that it is, in fact, unfermented cocoa beans are used to make ruby chocolate. There has been a lot of research into the ruby cocoa bean and no evidence that Barry Callebaut uses unfermented cocoa beans which means we can enjoy it for the unique taste that it is knowing how special the rare cocoa bean is.
You may remember it well, or you may have even got to try your own; launched at the beginning of 2018, Nestlé UK was the first company to introduce pink chocolate to the UK market in the form of a pink KitKat made using the elusive ruby bean. Incredibly, the UK was the first market in Europe to offer the new snack, which granted, was an exciting time for many chocolate lovers.
So much so that within hours of the new snack bar being offered in Tesco and Sainsbury’s, they sold out. This led to those looking to make a quick buck turning to eBay to sell the bars. Only cost a couple of pounds max in the shops, pink KitKat’s could be found on eBay for up to £200 in some cases. That’s just how exciting and rare the new chocolate snack was.
When it comes to new types of chocolate, continuous innovations can often take years due to the level of the complex structures and challenges involved in maintaining quality, texture, and taste.
However, scientists at Nestlé have amazingly found a way to reduce the amount of sugar that’s used in the chocolate making process by as much as 40% - a huge amount! Lots of snacks, chocolate bars and goodies currently claim to be sugar-free or contain less sugar than their competitors, but this usually means substituting the sugar with something else just as bad for the health of consumers.
While it’s estimated that this type of huge sugar reduction won’t be available in confectionery products until some time later this year, it’s a breakthrough that could change everything in the world of chocolate. Could ruby chocolate be the next superfood to sweep the nation? Quite possibly so, so watch this space, and remember, the next time pink chocolate is released in a UK store, get it before it sells out!
Have you tasted ruby chocolate? Tell us what you think?
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