Tuesday May 31, 2011

Taste the Rainbow Rainbow Flavored Sprinkles

Like any girl-child raised in the 80s, I had an obsession with Rainbow Brite. Mostly, I just wanted to eat the Star Sprinkles. To the best of my knowledge, no episode of Rainbow Brite ever suggested one could consume Star Sprinkles; but I nevertheless dreamed of it. What would those fantastically colored bits taste like?

I knew from extensive childhood research my favorite fruits had unique colors and flavors. Likewise, Star Sprinkles would surely boast a rainbow of flavor. This resulted in passionate longing to eat any multicolored treat; I knew if I could find real life Star Sprinkles, they would taste so grood. I mean good.

Instead, I discovered a grim truth: every color tasted the same. As if some culinary version of Murky Dismal had stolen their flavor.

homemade jimmies in rainbow colors

I spent psychotic amounts of time sorting breakfast cereal and candy sprinkles into color coded piles. Given a large enough sample, I believed some nuance of flavor would emerge. I eventually earned the dubious culinary pleasure of eating five consecutive, monochromatic bowls of Fruity Pebbles. Each identical in flavor, if not color. Bottomless despair at that sham of sameness filled my little heart. Lies. All lies.

True story, I swear to Harold McGee.

I’ve had this only half-repressed urge to right that wrong ever since. To unite vibrant rainbow colors with vibrant rainbow flavors. To taste a rainbow far more delicious than Skittles could ever dream, even in its bizarre sheep-boy filled dreams. Considering my childhood obsession with Star Sprinkles started the whole thing, I hoped making rainbow flavored rainbow sprinkles would bring my inner child some closure.

So while I got my Sprankle on, Rosco went about setting me up the bomb; the most rainborrific photo shoot of all time. He took a day off work to make fluffy cotton ball clouds rigged with an elaborate system of tubes and chutes to literally shower down a rainbow of sprinkles. The set up meant a) we needed a ton of sprinkles for each shot and b) we couldn’t reuse the sprinkles because they would land in a rainbow colored jumble. Even though I made over a pound of sprinkles, it only made enough for three takes.

Rosco’s sense of perfectionism meant he would have loved another 97 tries to capture the ultimate shot, but I think this one is nevertheless freaking awesome.

a rainbow of rainbow sprinkles

Homemade Sprinkles have become a monthly task for me at work. I originally figured out how to make them to complete a batch of Frosted Pop Tarts (another nostalgic endeavor), but hadn’t moved beyond classic vanilla.

I wanted to, but my recipe only allowed for a half teaspoon of liquid which, given the massive quantities of sprinkles yielded, resulted in a very mild flavor at best. The whole technique behind homemade sprinkles hinged on making a royal icing so dry it wouldn’t ooze even a fraction of a centimeter; thus it retains a perfectly cylindrical shape during the drying process.

Adding more liquid, aka more flavor, meant retooling the recipe away from royal icing and toward something all its own. So I ditched the egg white and tried making a paste from powdered sugar, corn syrup, and alcohol.

Not only did this make the recipe capable of holding over a half ounce of liquid, it also meant people worried about raw egg whites and my vegan friends could now join Sprinkle Fest 2011.

homemade rainbow sprinkles on a chocolate cupcake

Even better, the new recipe resulted in an improved texture. I grew up eating soft sprinkles with an almost al dente bite, which the new sprinkle recipe perfectly mimics. The originals had an undeniably crispy texture; not bad at all, just not perfectly in-line with my childhood sprinkle memories. (Am I the only person to have noticed textural differences among ice cream shop sprinkles?)

Using alcohol, rather than water, speeds the drying processes and also opens up a whole world of flavor. The average liquor store has a wider array of flavored vodkas and spirits than the average grocery store does extracts, so you can experiment beyond orange, lemon, and coconut. And just to be clear, the alcohol evaporates during the sprinkles’ lengthy drying process, making these perfectly fit for kiddos too.

Presuming your kids like gin flavored sprinkles…

let there be cupcakes

Quick: what flavor goes with red? Some will say cherry, others strawberry, watermelon, cinnamon, or even Campari.

Therein lies the beauty of homemade sprinkles. We all have unique mental associations between flavor and color. If you can find a liqueur, extract, herb or spice to match the flavor of your dreams, you can Sprinklefy it. To that end, Silver Cloud Estates has a ridiculous selection of natural and organic extracts including some seriously left-of-center options like Fiori di Sicilia and bergamot.

For my perfect rainbow, I raided the bar at Table 310 to use flavors a little more
Rainbow Room than Rainbow Brite. Violet: Creme de Violette, Indigo: Bombay Sapphire, Blue: Bourbon, Green: Matcha, Yellow: St-Germain, Orange: Apricot, Red: Rhubarb.

Whether you like soft or crispy sprinkles, they make an easy afternoon project and keep indefinitely in an airtight container. How will you taste the rainbow?

Original Sprinkles (crisp)

Sprinkles 2.0 (soft)

posted byStellaand filed under:  Fruit  Gluten Free  Lactose Free  Sideshow Photos

53 comments and counting

May 31, 2011 ·  9:50 AM

I still will have to taste them to believe sprinkles can be good. Also it wasn’t just girls who loved Rainbow Bright, although I was always more of a Jem Truly Outrageous kinda kid myself, now I need to fine a boyfriend with purple hair…

 · Kelly · 

May 31, 2011 · 10:34 AM

You guys are just too cool. You for coming up with flavored sprinkles and Rosco for blowing my mind with his photos.

I am at a loss for words.

 · kaitlin · http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com

May 31, 2011 · 11:13 AM

Love this! And going to share with my gluten free friends and friend’s kids! I agree that my childhood sprinkles were also “al dente” so I look forward to trying this recipe out! Thanks!

 · Lisa · http://epicureanexpressions.blogspot.com

May 31, 2011 ·  1:14 PM

Imagine my surprise when I run across your sprinkles (from a link on Craft Gossip) and find you are here in Lexington!!! I read back a bit and discovered Table 310… I’m putting it on my to do list for the weekend!

 · ACreativeDream · http://acreativedreamer.blogspot.com

May 31, 2011 ·  3:02 PM

They’re gorgeous and I love the idea of flavouring, but for the record you do need to label them as having alcohol content. It’s not 100% going to evaporate and anyone with religious or personal reasons against alcohol has the right to know alcohol was used. See here or google for tons more data.

The myth of complete alcohol evaporation is particularly problematic for recovering alcoholics, read more here.

I still think your experiments in this are awesome enough to feature soon when I blog at Capital Confectioners but there does need to be an alcohol warning and I myself can’t use this recipe.

 · Kimberly Chapman · http://eat-the-evidence.com

May 31, 2011 ·  5:40 PM

You’re not a “jimmies” person, I see. It must be a Midwest thing. I remember asking for a long john in Toronto when I was young, “the one with the jimmies, please”, and getting the strangest look. In any event, these are insanely cool. What a sweets triumph! I have to send a link to my sister, who’s the resident cupcaker in our family.



 · heather · http://squirrelbread.wordpress.com

May 31, 2011 ·  7:58 PM

@Kelly, just you wait. I’ll figure out a truly, truly, truly outrageous Jem dessert yet. Just you wait!

@Kaitlin, omg, isn’t Rosco the best?!

@Lisa, so glad to have another “al dente” fan on my side. What is up with those crispy sprinkles?

@ACreativeDream, how cool is that? I love finding other Lexingtonians, it seems like most don’t care about food, but finding those who do makes my day!

@Kimberly, Thank you for the interesting and thought provoking comment. I’ve clicked through to the links and have read them thoroughly.

Just to be clear, we’re talking about a half ounce of alcohol in 3/4 of a pound of sprinkles, which translates to 96, 2 Tbsp (1/8 ounce) servings.

I’m no mathematician, but here’s how I’ve worked it out. For the sake of math, let’s talk about a batch of sprinkles made with 100-proof whiskey. That means the entire batch contains 7 grams of alcohol the moment I make it.

According to the charts you linked to, 30% of that will evaporate over the course of a day. The recipe calls for a two day drying period, so I’d wager it would loose even more in that time. Even so, at 48 hours, using the most conservative estimates that means nearly 2.1 grams of alcohol will evaporate, leaving 4.9 grams in the entire batch.

To put this in perspective the recipe yields 340 grams altogether, making it 1.45% alcohol by weight. Now, divide that 4.9 grams of alcohol into 96 servings and that means there is 0.052 grams of alcohol per serving.

I completely support anyone’s right to decide what they put into their bodies, and to determine their own standards of deciding what is and what is not acceptable. My original sprinkle recipe does not contain alcohol, though it does call for vanilla extract which is about 70 proof. This new recipe may also be made with water, so don't hesitate to jump on the sprinkle bandwagon.

@Heather, in my other sprinkles post, I call them both “jimmies” and “hundreds and thousands.” But you’re quite right, I grew up simply calling them “sprinkles” and didn’t hear about jimmies until I went off to college.


Jun 01, 2011 ·  1:15 AM

You’re a freaking goddess, you are! Oh wait, yep, those photos would be testament to that. Temples will be erected in your honour and will undoubtedly be made of sweet stuff, with sprinkles on top.

 · Chocolate Chilli Mango · http://chocolatechillimango.com/

Jun 01, 2011 ·  2:54 AM

Wow. You’re right, red is TOTALLY Campari!

But vivid blue is Gin, Green is Bailie’s, Yellow is Sauternes, Purple is Chambord, Orange is Rum (Bundaberg, please, with alternating black ‘Coke’ and light blue is none other then Curacao.

…And yes, textures change and crunchy sprinkles is a crime.

 · Dylan · http://d-flat.dylanlacey.com

Jun 01, 2011 · 10:21 AM

There is so much I love about this from the Teen Girl Squad reference to the mental image of you sorting cereal. Loving the pictures as always.

 · Mousey · 

Jun 01, 2011 · 11:51 AM

Wow. I just stumbled upon your blog and these look so beautiful. Great pictures!!

 · Claudia · 

Jun 01, 2011 · 12:25 PM

This is awesome. I never even thought about making my own sprinkles never mind flavored ones!!

 · Beth Michelle · http://bethmichelle.com

Jun 01, 2011 ·  1:03 PM

Your presentation is AMAZING, cloud 9 ‘eh?

 · leemz · http://thechefinme.com

Jun 01, 2011 ·  5:50 PM

I love this idea! Though, naturally, I am biased…I make handmolded, flavored sugar “cubes” for a living. Ha! Maybe even more tedious than handmade sprinkles! Warm regards from Austin!

 · SugarMama · http://www.austinsugarworks.com

Jun 01, 2011 ·  6:35 PM

This is absolutely bonkers and I love it! Fabulous photos, love the rainbow of sprinkles pouring from the clouds!

 · Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen · http://wildeinthekitchen.blogspot.com

Jun 01, 2011 ·  9:33 PM

In the spelling of many of my high school facebook friends: “Awsome!”

 · Michelle · http://gourmandistan.com/

Jun 02, 2011 ·  1:29 AM

I did the same thing with cereal when I was little, though I was a little bit young for rainbow brite. I really love the idea of making sprinkles with different flavors.

 · Dana · http://thefunkykitchen.com

Jun 02, 2011 ·  9:07 AM

Stella, this post has made me love you even more if this is possible. I also did the same thing with coloured cereals etc. When I have some more time in the summer I will definitely give these a go And Rosco – WOW – mind blowing pictures!!!

 · Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite · http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com

Jun 02, 2011 · 10:40 AM

@CCM, haha, Rosco actually named those files cupcake-god01 and cupcake-god02. That’s exactly what we were going for.

@Dylan, love your style. I would be all about that particular rainbow combination.

@Mousey, yay! I didn’t care if only three people got the joke, TGS rules. I can always count on you to pick up my references. Love you.

@Claudia, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Cheers!

@Beth Michelle, homemade sprinkles are a brave new world, but such a delicious, compulsive one…

@leemz, Cloud 9, heh heh heh. Good one.

@Michelle, wow, that takes me back!

@Dana and @Mardi, thank you two oh so much for comforting me with your cereal sorting confessions. I thought I was the only one! I should have titled this blog post, “Confessions of a Cereal Sorter!”


Jun 02, 2011 ·  4:47 PM

These look amazing! I’m partial to the hard sprinkles myself, but not super-hard. Not like those little dot things. It’s hard to find good sprinkles. I’m not a big fan of the cake sprinkles though, that kind of smoosh apart. I’m going to have to try this!

 · Mike · http://www.mikekostyo.com

Jun 02, 2011 · 10:42 PM

Best. Photoshoot. EVER.

I can’t believe I never thought to make my own sprinkles, let alone adult-flavoured ones with boozy flavours. That’s just ridiculously brilliant.

(BTW, I love the scientific approach you took to Fruity Pebbles. Hilarious. My friend and I were convinced that green M&Ms tasted the best when we were kids, but I’m sure it was all in our head)

 · Isabelle @ Crumb · http://www.crumbblog.com

Jun 03, 2011 ·  1:27 AM

oh my gosh, I can’t believe you made sprinkles! I, too, have held the notion that each colour should have it’s own taste.

I’m soooo making these on the weekend!

 · ursula · http://apples_almonds.blogspot.com

Jun 04, 2011 ·  8:59 AM

What spectacular photos! Seriously, I love them….I too was a rainbow bright addict, along with strawberry shortcake and my little ponies I love that you made sprinkles, very inspiring!

 · Lauren · http://www.bytes-from-texas.blogspot.com

Jun 04, 2011 ·  9:31 AM

First of all, I was obsessed with Rainbrow Brite as a child. Still am. She’s frickin awesome, putting color back into the world when the bad guys try to suck it out. Second of all your photos are frickin awesome. I especially love the first one with the sprinkles in hand.

 · Katherine · http://www.katherinemartinelli.com

Jun 04, 2011 · 11:06 AM

@Mike, ah! A hard sprinkle fan joins us. I know what you mean about those little ones, now those are too hard for sure.

@Isabelle, kids are all little scientists, I think, trying to figure out this mysterious world they were plopped into. Who could escape the allure of the green M&Ms?

@ursula, let me know how yours turn out!

@Lauren, oh, man I had a MAJOR thing for My Little Ponies.

@Katherine, okay, I’m still a little too into Rainbow Brite as well. Something about those super saturated colors is just mesmerizing. So glad you like the photos, Rosco is totally bomb, no?


Jun 26, 2011 ·  2:40 AM

For those concerned about the alcohol, I don’t know about other flavors; but I do know you CAN make “non-alcoholic” vanilla extract. (Well, actually, it does contain “alcohol” in the scientific sense, just not the kind people drink as alcohol. I’m wanting to say it’s glycerin? But anyways, I would suppose that one could probably make other flavored non-alcoholic “alcohols” too. For anyone interested, here is a link to the recipe.

 · ransomed · 

Jun 26, 2011 · 12:39 PM

@ransomed, How intriguing! Thanks for the link.


Jul 14, 2011 · 11:51 AM

As a fellow girl-child from the 80’s, I am so glad that I’m not the only one who was obsessed to separate the colors of sprinkles or pebble cereal in desperate hope to taste the different flavors that were painfully non-existent.

 · daffymommy · 

Jul 14, 2011 · 12:08 PM

@DaffyMommy, painfully non existant indeed. my heart is so warmed whenever I meet a like minded sprinkle separator. xoxo


Jul 26, 2011 ·  8:42 AM

This is just insane in a good way… I love the pictures and the commitment you have – though I am happy to let you make the sprinkles and I will just eat them )

 · Bea from Modern Country Lady · http://moderncountrylady.blogspot.com/

Jul 26, 2011 ·  9:06 AM

@Bea, haha, fair deal!


Jul 26, 2011 · 12:33 PM

Thanks for posting the new [vegan-friendly] sprinkles recipe! I’ll be making some this weekend!

I love the sprinkle rainbow!

 · Jenny · 

Jul 26, 2011 ·  3:19 PM

@Jenny, you’re welcome; so happy I could oblige. Happy Sprinkling!


Aug 05, 2011 ·  2:57 PM

Shut-up! This is seriously SO awesome!!! You are amazing! Thank YOU, for sharing your recipes and ideals… I am now addicted!

 · Andrea · http://saltcitybaker.blogspot.com

Aug 05, 2011 ·  7:34 PM

@Andrea, haha, welcome aboard the Sprinkle Wagon!


Aug 12, 2011 · 12:30 AM

Holy crap! You’re like Yoda teaching us all the ways to become fellow baking Jedis! And I started cracking up when I saw these photos because the one of your hand coming out of the clouds holding the cupcake TOTALLY reminds me of the monty python and the holy grail movie/poster!

I do have a quick question. Will oil based flavorings work in this recipe or do they have to be alcohol based extracts or sugar based flavor syrups? I’m not opposed to using alcohol, it’s just that I have several oil based ones on hand I’d like to use if I can. I just learned that with traditional royal icing type recipes any oil is a big hell no-no, but since this recipe is a little different and doesn’t include the egg whites I hoped there might be a chance it would work!

 · Jayne · 

Aug 12, 2011 · 10:05 AM

@Jayne, glad you’re pickin’ up our BraveTart brand of humor. XD

I recently made a batch with oil based mint extract, they turned out great!

You can use oil based flavorings, you’ll still need alcohol or other liquid in order to get the right consistency. Just scale back the other liquids to compensate for the addition of the extracts. If you use water as that liquid, you may find your sprinkles take longer to dry.

Good luck, hope you have a wonderful sprinkle experience.


Aug 19, 2011 ·  1:10 PM

You have literally made my life complete! I’ve always wanted to make my own sprinkles. I adore sprinkles. Have you tried making a funfetti cake with them?

 · Kala · 

Aug 19, 2011 ·  7:02 PM

@Kala, OMG NO I HAVEN’T!!! That is the BEST idea ever, you are a darling. You will be seeing that from me shortly, count on it.


Nov 07, 2011 · 12:32 AM

This is sooo awesome. I made a few homemade sprinkles before using melted chocolate or those candy melts but nothing this beautiful and flavorful! Can’t wait to make some starbright sprinkles soon.

 · Maggie Mae · http://maedbymaggie.blogspot.com

Nov 07, 2011 · 10:13 PM

@Maggie Mae, I’m glad you found me. These are so fun to make, I hope you enjoy making a batch.


Nov 21, 2011 ·  5:35 PM

This looked really great, but got me thinking. Have you thought of using a potato ricer so you can use a stiff dough and make quite a bit at once?

 · Christine · 

Nov 21, 2011 ·  7:58 PM

@Christine, I tried it once, and it didn’t work. The strands that came out all stuck together when they touched. It might work if you made the sprinkles dry enough, but I’ve had no luck so far.


Jun 30, 2012 ·  5:52 PM

I’ve made the sprinkles which are great. totally unrelated question – how is the cupcake frosted? what decorating tip/technique? thanks!

 · Natasha · 

Jun 30, 2012 ·  8:42 PM

@Natasha, as I recall, just a generous squeeze of Swiss buttercream from a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. No technique, just “point and shoot” so to speak. After that, just a careful dusting of sprinkles in wedges over the top.


Sep 16, 2012 · 12:05 AM

Hi Stella I could not get the comment to work on the macaron recipe so I thought I could ask here.
I made macarons today and I used your recipe and it did not work; everytime I went to see if they were done, I would try to peel a corner one off and only a hollow crust would come off and this kept happening and finally when I would take them out of the oven, they would get super hard on the outside and the feet but not the bottom. Do you have any explanation or maybe a solution?
Thank you so much!

 · sss147 · 

Sep 16, 2012 · 12:59 PM

Hi sss147. Actually, I disabled the commenting on the macaron post because after 200+ comments, it was getting a little overwhelming! Is this your first time making macarons, or just your first time with my recipe?


Sep 16, 2012 ·  6:01 PM

It’s my first time with your recipe

 · sss147 · 

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 · Augusto de Arruda Botelho · http://bit.ly/2noNb2j

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 · Georges Sadala · http://georgessadalarihan.info/georges-sadala-rihan

May 10, 2017 ·  3:57 PM

So can they be made without the alcohol? I am only 16 and my mom wouldn’t allow me to have a small bottle even for baking purposes.

 · miirsyyy · 

Nov 18, 2017 · 11:50 AM

For the gin sprinkles, did you use both extract and liquor? If so, what flavor extract did you use? Thanks!

 · Etta · 


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