This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
Dried chiles were a staple in my household, and my mother always kept three kinds in our pantry: pul biber (flaked chile), kırmızı toz biber (powdered chile), and Urfa biber. The latter, also known as Urfa chile, is my absolute favorite of the three. It’s a souvenir I bring back in bulk whenever I visit my family in Turkey, and I use it on almost everything: Turkish-style poached eggs, fresh salads and mezze, and even leftover pizza. Grown in the hills surrounding Urfa in southeastern Turkey, it’s a purplish-black spice that packs a smoky kick and subtle sweetness, adding serious depth and nuance to any dish or snack—including my favorite Spring & Mulberry chocolate bar.
There are a lot of fancy chocolates on the market, but Spring & Mulberry is the one I always keep stocked in my snack cabinet. Made with 72% cacao and sweetened only with dates, Spring & Mulberry’s chocolate bars comes in five flavors: Pure Dark Chocolate; Mixed Berry; Medjool Date, Pecan, and Himalayan Salt; Lavender, Bee Pollen, and Rose Petal; and—my go-to—Mango, Urfa Chili, Black Lime.
Each chocolate bar is visually striking, with flecks of smoky Urfa chili flakes from Spicewalla and succulent mango slices pressed into the bar like mosaic tiles. The first time I picked one up at dinner party shop Big Night in Brooklyn, I thought, “Maybe it’ll taste like chocolate-covered dried mangoes.” But when I snapped a piece off and popped it into my mouth, it summoned a bewitching savory sweetness followed by a delightful kick, unlocking a core memory. That one bite transported me right back to my mother’s kitchen, where I could always smell the spice in the air.
Thanks to the generous amount of dried fruit, the chocolate bar itself is pretty hefty. While I have eaten a whole bar in a single sitting, two squares are usually more than enough to satisfy if I’m in need of a chocolate pick-me-up. The combination of the chocolate and mango tastes heavenly, but it’s the Urfa chili flakes that seal the deal for me. With each bite, I’m reminded of my summers in Turkey—even if I’m just sitting on the couch with my partner in Newark.