Ask Paul

Ask Paul: What Is Ruby Chocolate?

Is it for real?

Published Feb. 2, 2022.

Dan asked: What is ruby chocolate?

Just when you think there are enough kinds of chocolate, the large manufacturer Barry Callebaut introduces another: not dark , not white, but what they call ruby chocolate. Callebaut patented the manufacturing process for the specialty chocolate in 2009, brought it to market in 2017, and now sells the product to many chocolatiers, who turn it into bars, bonbons, and other treats. True to the name, it’s a startling mauve, and it’s made with no added coloring. How does that work? 

Callebaut capitalizes on the fact that, like other fruits, fresh cacao beans can naturally produce brilliant pigments: in particular, flavonoid polyphenols that can create a vivid violet color.

So why isn’t all chocolate ruby chocolate? Because of the usual chocolate-making process: It requires fermenting the beans for several days, during which time enzymatic reactions oxidize the purplish-red polyphenols, irrevocably altering their  color and reducing their astringency (although some winey tannic notes are often still present in good chocolate).. Roasting the beans then produces the familiar reddish-brown spectrum of chocolate we know and love.

The Callebaut method, according to the patent, entails: selecting beans with the right rosy pigments; skipping the long, color-degrading fermentation step; and instead soaking in an acidic solution to heighten the pinkness. These beans are then processed, with the addition of plain cocoa butter and sugar, into ruby chocolate.

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

It looks unearthly, beautiful, and Valentine-y. How does it taste? Like white chocolate, it has no cocoa flavor. And the taste contribution of the pink beans is rather minimal, so most of the flavor of a ruby chocolate bar comes from the fat and the sugar. There’s a perceptible hint of fruity tartness from the beans, especially in the aftertaste, but not much more than a whisper. It gets by on its looks. 

One more caveat, from my home testing: Don’t make pink-chocolate-chunk cookies, gloriously appealing as that sounds. The heat of the oven changes the ruby to a dull beige.

Ask Paul Adams, senior science research editor, about culinary ambiguities, terms of art, and useful distinctions:


This is a members' feature.