Let me put it out there immediately – I am sceptical, and this seems nothing more than a bit of a publicity stunt to me. However, I will be there when it is released, and will be putting it through the rigours of testing to see if it really is something completely new.
There are some clues in the press release from Barry Callebaut that we can use to make some educated guesses.
Firstly, they say what makes this unique is the COLOUR – there are no added ingredients or flavours. We can deduce this means a new processing method that has created something a little different. We don’t know the ingredient breakdown yet, so unsure if this is white chocolate done differently, or a whole new flavour profile. However, traditionally, cocoa solids are a very deep brown, and pale ruby colours will not shine through this. It is a bit of a leap, but on the face of it, this looks like they have found a different way to present white chocolate.
There is a really intriguing nugget hidden with-in the press release though. The image attached that has gone all around the world shows the flesh that the cocoa beans sit in – and this flesh also carries this reddish hue. Have they discovered a way to use the flesh around the beans? That is one possibility that does excite me, as that part of the fruit would have a very different flavour profile.
However, what is most likely is that Callebaut have found a way to use red cocoa powder commercially. Red cocoa powder is not new – it has been around for a while, although it is not generally well known or understood. What gives this theory further credence is the reference to a new ‘powder’ extracted from the bean that has been added to the ruby chocolate. If so, this really is just a marketing gimmick after all, which will be terribly disappointing – basically, the cocoa powder turns the white chocolate a reddish colour, and adds a slightly darker chocolate flavour profile, suggesting this is nothing more than a chocolate that will be very similar in flavour to a light milk chocolate.
Right now, milk is the only ingredient that differentiates the different types we already have. Dark chocolate has no milk chocolate, just cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Milk chocolate is basically dark chocolate with less cocoa solids and milk powder added. White chocolate is essentially milk chocolate, but without the cocoa solids (the dark stuff cocoa powder is made from). A 4th style is interesting in concept but hard to believe. Unless there is a new ingredient (like milk), then it is most likely a new processing technique – much like ‘caramelised white chocolate’ by Valrhona that was once heralded as a new 4th type of chocolate – still white chocolate, not new, just heated and presented differently.
Fruity chocolate is nothing new to those of us who enjoy special single origin blends – some cocoa around the world is very fruity, and it isn’t classed as something ‘new.’ Adding some red cocoa powder to white chocolate would not be something I would consider a ‘4th type of chocolate.’
We will have to wait for more details to be released before we can pass final judgement, and I may have to admit I was wrong. However, it is hard to fathom a completely new style of chocolate if there are no new ingredients, so I will remain sceptical until such time as I am proved a fool! In the meantime, I am off to add some cocoa powder to white chocolate and see if a magical 4th type of chocolate leaps out at me!
~ Stu Jordan, Executive Chocolatier, Kako Chocolate