American pastry and chocolate artisans are finally enjoying access to the intriguing, highly-anticipated Callebaut ruby RB1. Described by the company as “the most uncommon chocolate discovery in 80 years” after dark, milk and white, the new product, noted for its “exceptional red-pink color and fruity taste,” is still awaiting FDA approval before it can officially be called chocolate in the U.S. Meanwhile, it has generated enthusiastic response from a coterie of confectioners who have been working with samples of ruby RB1 provided over the last six months by Callebaut, part of Barry Callebaut, a leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cacao.
According to Callebaut, many years of research and development by their cocoa experts, in collaboration with Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, led to identifying a specific type of bean, the ruby cocoa bean, and then finding the best way to process the bean for use by chefs and chocolatiers. Ruby thrives in various cocoa growing countries like Brazil, Ecuador, and the Ivory Coast, so neither genus or origin determine its qualification as a cocoa bean to be ruby – rather it is the natural occurrence of certain precursors that provide the color and taste, without the addition of any colorings or fruit flavorings.
Ruby was initially launched in China in the fall of 2017. KitKat was the first brand to debut a ruby bar in Asia, followed by other applications in 2018 throughout Asia and Europe.
In May of that year, Callebaut was honored by the National Confectioners Association for “one of the biggest breakthrough inventions in the chocolate category in more than 150 years,” but the only access in this country until recently was by mail-order from abroad.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago, and Eclat Chocolate in West Chester, Pennsylvania, were among the first to offer rosy-hued confections with ruby RB1, a version developed for use by craft chocolatiers and chefs. Vosges founder Katrina Markoff recalled, “We have a truly wonderful partnership with Callebaut… and we were beyond inspired, honored, and excited” to have early access to ruby. Markoff’s four-truffle box featured both Ruby Cerise with cherry gelée and vanilla bean ganache, crowned with freeze-dried cherry and pink peppercorn to add a contrasting bite to the sweetness, and Sour Mango Ruby, house-made soft caramel infused with fresh passion fruit and mango purees. “It’s a bit different than other chocolates,” Markoff continued, “but I always push to get the nuances of the notes.”
Christopher Curtin at Eclat encountered ruby early on, while working with chocolate on a visit in Belgium. “I like the fact that Callebaut is pushing the envelope and coming up with new products,” he observed. “What’s interesting is that the color is really neat, and adds a visual dimension; it’s another palate to use, and in a rapidly changing chocolate world, you can have many different applications.”
Curtin was one of four top artisans working with Callebaut to introduce ruby to New York sweets aficionados at the recent ICC Pastryland Bake Sale, a partnership of Callebaut and the International Culinary Center (read about this event at https://pastryartsmag.com/news/). Curtin decided to showcase ruby on its own in both shell and ganache, while Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina combined ruby and hibiscus as a filling for the popular Mexican butter shortbread Scribble cookie. “I’m super-excited about it – the filling is like a truffle,” says Gerson, whose shop in Greenwich Village is a mecca for south-of-the-border treats: “The flavor is assertive but subtle at the same time, a little bit like white chocolate, but in a good way; it’s a chocolate you really want to celebrate.”
Monica Ng, Executive Pastry Chef at Great Performances, celebrated ruby at the Pastryland Bake Sale with Ruby Velvet Choux, a cream puff filled with raspberry lychee compote and ruby whipped ganache. “The really exiting fact about ruby is that the color and flavor are naturally present in the cacao bean; the acidity at the end and the faint berry aroma makes me think of fruit-forward pairing ideas. I try to enhance the natural characteristic of the chocolate. My approach is to enhance its subtle flavors without overwhelming them, which can be tricky. Additionally, when it comes to tempering, it is closer to a milk chocolate than a white.”
For Dimitriy Shurygin, owner of The Key Patisserie in Brooklyn, tempering falls between white and milk. Shurygin, who contributed ruby snack bars to the bake sale, commented, “When you come around a brand new product, of course there is a lot of testing involved.” His recommendation for tempering: “Heat it up to 45 degrees C, drop temperature to 27 degrees C, and heat it back up to between 28.5 and 29.5 degrees C.” Shurygin first discovered ruby in Australia when he prepped next to a chef using it in the Savour Patissier of the Year competition, and had been waiting for a moment when he could play around with it. The result was a flavor combination of ruby, raspberry, and pistachio – not too sweet, and at the same time rich with smooth, fruity notes of ruby. Like the other artisans who have discovered ruby, Shurygin is “super-excited,” and says “We have a lot of ideas how to apply it to our pastry and chocolate production.”
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