Level: Novice

Reading Time: 12 minutes

I just heard about "Ruby Chocolate" from Callebuat. Do you know what kind of bean this is and have any info about it? Would like your 2¢

I often say to my friends I live under a rock.  I keep my head down, I do what I have to do and if something happens I’m sure to be told.  I could not have avoided hearing about this so called invention if I tried.  In this case I actually heard about it well before the flood of emails started coming in.

For those that did stay under their rocks, the same article is out there in slightly different forms.


Aside from what you can read there, what exactly is this pink chocolate?

Let’s get this out of the way.

Fruity pink chocolate doesn’t excite me. I can’t see how it is going to have any relevance to bean to bar makers.  Certainly people are going to try and reverse engineer it and yes, I am going to play a little bit just for the sheer challenge but that is it.  I thrive on puzzles.

The whole big media press sounds like spin and processing to my ears.  Calling it a 4th type of chocolate is stretching it really far for me.  The color shown (pink) isn't the red hue they describe and for me, that’s spin.

Let’s get back to what it is.  This is from Bloomberg.

"The beans used to make ruby chocolate come from Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil and the unusual color comes from the powder extracted during processing, De Saint-Affrique said. No berries or colors are added. While other companies including Cargill Inc. already produce red cocoa powder, this is the first time natural reddish chocolate is produced."

That basically has it all laid out. 

  • It is not a single origin or type of cocoa bean.
  • The color comes from processing.
  • They are adding this processed colored powder back to white chocolate

Well, it's not actually white chocolate since then it would contain milk powder, but I kept reading how the texture is of milk chocolate (which I find odd) and it sort of stuck in my head as pink 'white' chocolate.

The red cocoa powder that was previously made is non-alkalized cocoa powder and to my eye isn't really all that red.  It is more of a deep auburn.  I experimented with it in the past and found it darkens up pretty quickly upon heating or even running in the melanger as it oxidizes. I don’t recommend running out and buying that particular red cocoa powder as it is just going to make brown chocolate.  It might have a little red tint not unlike Madagascar cocoa but that is about it.

It is unclear if the beans that are being processed are even fermented.  Cocoa tends to darken when it is fermented.  There are some that don’t but they still turn a light taupe and clearly are not red.  Some of the beans in Maranon do that.

I found this on Instagram from @ericaerts but there is no indication these are the beans responsible for pink since all other indications point toward processing. 

pink beans.jpg

It isn’t out of the question though that the processing preserves a color that otherwise would darken.  But there is a little contradictory circumstantial evidence that it's not a red bean in that the main promotional photo shows a pod with brown beans.  I have no trouble believing the photographer just picked a random pod for aesthetic reasons.  There currently really no way to know for sure.

From what I can tell it is a quirk of processing a bean with a certain trait a particular way that both removes most of the chocolate flavor, leaves a fruity flavor and turns it some shade ofred or pink. 

My chemist gut makes me think the beans are both unfermented, very possilbly of a very light color to start with and processed pretty heavily since it is pointed out time after time that there is little to no chocolate flavor associated with it.  They stress fruity flavors and those flavors only.  I would not be surprised to find the beans are not fermented and/or roasted or only just enough to allow a reasonable winnowing.

Callebuat seems to be trying to make a big deal that it is pure chocolate because the color and flavor comes from cocoa beans but this doesn’t impress me anymore than those that tout the superiority of two ingredient chocolate. 

Come on though, yt isn’t like milk chocolate is only cocoa derived and it is one of the three standard chocolates.  Ditto for white chocolate and depending on your cocoa butter choice you can get a little real chocolate flavor in white chocolate.  

That right there seems to invalidate anything superior or special about this pink stuff.  It doesn’t taste like chocolate!

It’s just pink white chocolate and there is lots of it around from dried strawberries, beets and other red food colorants.  There is also coffee chocolates, coconut chocolates, and a multude of other chocolates that are just white chocolate with another ingredient added. I don't see this any different.  You can make chocolate by using cocoa powder.  The industry has done this for years.  Just because this one isn't brown doesn't make it a whole new class of chocolate. It just makes it another processed chocolate like product in my not so humble opinion.

Finally, it is, so far, only going to be available in chocolate form, not beans, so it will be not particularly relevant to craft bean to bar makers.  And from all indications even if Callebuat released the bean type there is no way they are going to release the process.  It's falling under the umbrella of Trade secret, of which I have little patience.

Ok, I’ve been kind of hard on it.  I do want to give full marks for the people who made the discovery.  I personally would have been thrilled to have found a cocoa powder that turned pink.  That IS cool and I will readily admit I’ve been thinking about food safe processes that might lead to other colors.  Light colored, unfermented beans.  Acid or base?  Maybe some alcohol color reaction?  Did they maybe add some ilk of bleaching agent in?  If the resulting powder was light enough, did they perform some type of alkaloid derivative? Many tests for alkaloids are color based. 

Were they testing the theobromine content of some powder and noticed a powerful color change?  Granted many of the test chemicals are toxic, or at least not food safe, but many ideas are spring boarded this way.  Caffeine and theobromine for instance turn purple when reacted with potassium chlorate under acid conditions if then treated with ammonia.  No, I don’t think they used chlorate and ammonia….but then again bleached flour uses many toxic chemicals ( benzoyl peroxide, Calcium peroxide, Chlorine and Chlorine dioxide, and even Azodicarbonamide) so really, it is not too outlandish of an idea.

Regardless, I find that portion of this exciting.

Calling it a new chocolate and wrapping it in spin isn’t but that’s business.  Hearing that people are 'gobbling it down' due to the light flavor makes me a little queasy.

It certainly has applications for those in the visual spectrum in decorating.

pink creations.jpg

But then again, I’m not sure how much.  Colored cocoa butters are out there and are already being used to make some utterly beautiful creations in luscious shades other than Pepto bismol pink.

Now THIS is what I call ruby chocolates

ruby chocolates.jpg


If it isn’t clear my $0.02 is leaning on the side of don't know, don't really care, and it isn't relevant to me.  (but kudos again to the food chemists involved).

Fruity Pepto pink chocolate doesn’t excite me.

I’m going to go and see if I can invent Amethyst chocolate….Really, it will be the next big thing!  Just you wait and see.....

Now where did I put those dried blueberries…..?