Since Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut unveiled ruby chocolate to the world in September last year we've all been a little confused. It's hard to get your head around the fact that ruby chocolate isn't simply white chocolate with strawberry colouring - it's a completely new variety of chocolate. We've had a chance to taste KitKat's Sublime Ruby since it was released earlier this year, but now Callebaut have announced blocks of ruby chocolate will hit our shores in August for eager pastry-makers to experiment with in their baking (more on that below).
The chocolate's colour occurs naturally in the "ruby" cocoa bean. Just what a ruby cocoa bean is hasn't quite been revealed - the company says that ruby chocolate was "discovered" more than 10 years ago when "researchers found out that ruby chocolate was linked to precursors in a specific type of bean: the “ruby” cocoa bean." Okay, then.
Intense, fresh, sour, fruity
Callebaut says that ruby chocolate "owes its colour and specific taste solely to the expert selection and meticulous processing of the ruby beans – no fruit flavouring or colourants are added to the chocolate." The taste is said to be one of intense frutiness, with fresh and sour notes. Indeed, many early tasters are reporting that the overwhelming flavour is one of berry, not chocolate. Clay Gordon from The Chocolate Life, who was at the launch of ruby chocolate last year, says he found "little to none of the characteristic cocoa flavor associated with chocolate”.
Potentially we have a new "is white chocolate really chocolate?" debate brewing. Regardless, ruby chocolate is intriguing.
Ruby chocolate-filled days
Right now as Head Chocolatier at KitKat Chocolatory, Connie Yuen is one of a lucky few working with ruby chocolate in Australia. Ruby chocolate has been slow to launch worldwide and Australia is one of the first countries to offer it, ahead of the USA. KitKat have two varieties of ruby chocolate offered exclusively at the Melbourne Chocolatory.
“Some guests like the simplicity of KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby,” says Yuen. “Others prefer the flavours of our hand-crafted KitKat Chocolatory Black Label Ruby, which features sweet dried strawberries, raspberries and caramelised meringue.”
The positive response to the unique berry-flavoured chocolate has been overwhelming: both varieties sold out in within the first week of launch, requiring a fast restock.
“Ruby is very different to milk, dark and white chocolate," says Yuen. "It took time and plenty of practice to learn how to temper so that we achieve a beautifully smooth and glossy finish.
“Chocolate is not the easiest ingredient to work with, so patience is definitely a virtue in this line of work.”
Queen of Ruby Chocolate
Patience is something Global Callebaut Ambassador and Australia’s Queen of Chocolate, Kirsten Tibballs is calmly teaching her Instagram fans. She's been teasing them with ruby chocolate updates since May and her followers are desperate to have a go themselves. "Can't wait to get my hands on some ruby chocolate," said one fan. Another added, "Waiting on September to roll around! How pretty!"
Callebaut will launch RB1, a ruby chocolate variety dedicated to chocolatiers and pastry chefs, in select "Chocolate Hero" stores in August (at this stage they are located in Alexandria, Leura and South Yarra), ahead of a wider September launch.
Tibballs says ruby RB1 "opens up a whole new world of ideas and makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about chocolate.”
Unlike Yuen, Tibballs finds ruby chocolate to be similar to other chocolate varieties, though she concedes that it tempers at a "slightly lower" temperature than other chocolates. "Once tempered, it is best to work with Ruby RB1 at 28.5 to 29.5 degrees celsius," she advises.
Inspiring new flavours
For Tibballs, the exciting thing about working with ruby chocolate is the new flavour directions the chocolate inspires.
"The colour is amazing and the natural berry flavour works beautifully with a wide variety of flavour profiles too," she says. "My favourite flavour pairing is between star anise, cinnamon or coconut."
One of her latest creations has been a chocolate tart, peanut shortbread, peanut butter and raspberry jelly cream and a whipped ruby chocolate ganache. An undeniable fresh take on PBJ with ruby chocolate adding a sweet-sour hit of pink perfection.
Tibballs will be showcasing this and other ruby chocolate creations at the Smooth Festival of Chocolate coming up in September at Sydney Showground.