Saturday, 26 May 2012

Ashmore's Froots Strawberry

Three Hats Imaginative Foods, an Australian company, was founded in 1998 by Joanne Kessell. It was developed as a response to what Ms Kessell saw as a shortage of non-traditional, upmarket chocolates in Australia. Their products are carried in the Australian market by stores such as David Jones, Myer and Gloria Jean's, and are available in Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, plus being available on some international airlines.

Ashmore's is one of the brands carried by Three Hats, and it is a premium confectionery range, carrying 'naturally dried whole fruits smothered in rich chocolate'. The Froots range is available in many varieties: strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, cherry, kiwi fruit, raspberry and blackberry, and in milk, white or dark chocolate. All feature 'specially dried' 100% fruit pieces covered in chocolate. I have here the 30g counter box (which is available in three flavours: strawberry, blueberry  and cranberry), but a range is also available in 120g hang bags at Coles (as seen a few weeks ago) in four flavours: strawberry, blueberry, cranberry and mixed fruit.

For a gourmet product, the product is packaged nicely in a neat but small glossy cardboard box with a little window at the front. The colours are vibrant but the use of lots of white means the product stands out on the shelf against other products that are more brightly-coloured. It features a large graphic of a strawberry across the bottom (other flavours have their respective fruits), and a chocolate-dipped strawberry photo above the window, giving the impression the flavour will be similar. The box is plastic wrapped, but not fully - the top and bottom are not covered, so the box is not airtight when plastic wrapped.

As per an item that features '100% real fruit', the chocolate pieces are misshapen and differ in size. The largest piece in my strawberry box is almost as big as a Malteser, while the smallest is barely 6mm wide. Most are about the size of a Crispy M&M, and rounded rather than squashed. All are are lovely shade of brown, not warm or milky but with a nice but thin gloss finish. They smell milky and sweet, with no trace of the fruit pieces inside.

It's clear that this is a product meant to be savoured - both the serving size and number of pieces indicate that these pieces aren't meant for mindless chomping (that's more my style, unfortunately).

I loved biting these open for photos. The innards are just so pretty to look at. The chocolate is quite thick, almost 3mm , which means there is a decent amount of chocolate in proportion to the fruit inside. That also means the fruit pieces are thoroughly covered and not exposed to the air. Inside, the strawberry pieces are still rich in colour and retain the colour gradient that leads to the centre of the fruit. In some pieces I could see the strawberry seeds present too. The fruit looks soft and a little chalky, but crumbles nicely.

Because of the thick chocolate I was unable to try the strawberry just by itself, but by pressing a half on my tongue I could get a taste of the tarty strawberry inside. It's sharp and tangy and quite intense, an effect softened by the thick chocolate coating. The chocolate, on the other hand, is somewhat unremarkable alone, but when paired with the strawberry it provides a soft, sweet background that supports the strawberry flavour without overpowering. On the smaller pieces though, where there is very little strawberry present, the chocolate does override the fruit flavour.

The flavour does hang around for a while afterwards, and you might occasionally find strawberry pieces or seeds in your teeth. Considering there is barely a handful of confectionery, I was disappointed when I reached the bottom far too soon, but the product is far too expensive for me to purchase on my own. I paid $2.99 for the 30g box.

The chocolate is 24% minimum cocoa solids. The box says the product is 'made and packed in Australia and Hong Kong from imported ingredients'. They contain milk and soy, and may contain traces of peanuts and tree nuts.

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