Let’s talk about sprinkles… Sprinkles are just plain fun! Fun on cupcakes, transformative on cookies, and duh on donuts!!! And don’t get me started on funfetti cakes!! Sprinkles rock the baking world.
They can turn a plain cupcake into a party.
There are 2 kinds of sprinkles. First, “traditional” sprinkles…they are made with confectioners sugar, soy lecithin, carnauba wax, hydrogenated palm oil and artificially created colors like, Blue 1 and Red 40. And, “natural” sprinkles. So take out the hydrogenated palm oil, the soy lecithin, wax and replace the sugar with cane juice and the food coloring with a variety of colorful plant based options! fun right!
We’ve had a lot of controversy & conflict regarding sprinkles at our bakery.
Sometimes it’s about the soy content (we never use the hydrogenated ones!) and sometimes, most of the time, it’s about the artificial colors. Which I get! And agree with.
To combat this I have spent many hours looking for naturally colored sprinkles and dyes to use in the bakery. And we do. But natural sprinkles look, well, natural, pale and kinda like they have gone off. On a good day they are totally boring. And so, very often we have requests for the artificially colored sprinkles. Sometimes we are accommodating, because we really don’t want to let anyone down and we sincerely want everyone to feel included.
We do not like to use artificial colors.
There are many reasons. Some are bad for you since most are chemical based. They are not organic and we don’t know the origins. On a few colorants, we totally know the origins I’m talking about red40… uhm… Made from beetles. Definitely not vegan and definitely creates havoc in a large portion of the population’s chemistry, whether they know it or not. Personally I don’t tolerate red40 either. Bad belly.
And so when we have customers that request artificial colors to make things look more fun or to match their party decor …We oblige, but there has got to be a better way.
For years now, I’ve been on the constant search for the latest in plant-based colors. And I try everything that shows up.
Even new kinds of natural food sources to create colors from. There are a few companies out there that make naturally colored sprinkles. India Tree for instance, has been a source for us since the beginning. And I really love their chocolate vermicelli Jimmy’s. They are pure cocoa, no wax or soy and actually taste delicious. The company’s colored sprinkles are not that impressive. And so, due to lack of companies out there creating great sprinkles…I’ve done as I usually do, and just go figure out how to do it myself. And it’s actually pretty easy.
I take my favorite white sprinkles and color them with the best plant based colors out there. Turmeric… Annatto … Paprika… Spirulina… Chlorophyll….Carmine…Beets…Carotene… And I’ve invested tons of time in even a few crazy ideas like flower petals, plant leaves and other, weirder spices.
Here’s the how-to:
First begin with a basic sprinkle in white. Find a brand that you like that is soy free, non-GMO and has no artificial colors already applied to them. Since we are also gluten-free at the bakery it is important to find a gluten-free vodka. The vodka acts as the reactor and base for the colorants and then dries away. Don’t worry, it’s waaaaaay too tiny an amount to party on.
I like the brand Blue Ice, a potato based vodka that is certified gluten free.
1 cup of plain white non-GMO sprinkles
1/2 tsp gluten free vodka.
1-2 tsp of powdered spices or plant based colorings.
See below for suggestions.
1 qt container with a sealed lid.
Add all three ingredients to your container and stir with a spoon until everything is very lightly coated. The vodka will activate the powdered colorants and bring them to life.
Tightly attach the lid to your container and shake for three minutes until everything is coated in your new colorant. Your sprinkles will be wet and sticking together pretty well.
On a parchment lined cookie sheet spread out your wet sprinkles in a very thin layer use rubber gloves to smooth them into a single layer.
Allow your sprinkles too dry for 15 minutes and then gently shake the pan to scramble and loosen up your sprinkles. Allow to air dry for another 15 minutes.
Continue this process until they are more dry than wet and then allow to sit out overnight until completely dry.
You may notice some aroma coming from your sprinkles depending on the spice or colorant that you have added. Don’t worry this will dry and become nonexistent later when you use your sprinkles.
Next day, loosen your sprinkles again. Unclumping them and moving to an airtight container for later use.
Red… Beets, Rose Hips
Orange… Beta-Carotene, Paprika, Annatto
Yellow… Turmeric, Annatto
Green… Chlorophyll, Spinach
Blue… Spirulina, Blueberry skins
Purple…Anthocyanin, Red Cabbage
I get the best results using freeze dried vegetables and spices. A few companies offer these as naturals food coloring but the results vary greatly.