How To Make Sprinkles for Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes!

A few days ago Stella, the blogger at BraveTart, blew my mind. She said that you could make sprinkles easily in your own kitchen. Crazy, I thought — brilliant! I obviously had to try it. Here's how it turned out for me, documented step by step.

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Homemade Decorative Sprinkles

Now, you may be asking already: Why in the heck would anyone want to make their own sprinkles? Here are three reasons I can think of, off the top of my head:

1. For health - If you want to have complete control over everything that goes in your (or your kid's) mouth, then this is a great way to make something fun and pretty while certifying it is gluten-free, or free of specific allergens. I used standard red food coloring, but you could also use all-natural or vegetable-derived dyes.

2. For aesthetics - Need to match your cupcakes to your outfit exactly? This is your chance.

3. Because you can - And seriously, isn't this the best reason? To make cupcakes or cookies from scratch, completely, and be able to say, "Yeah, I made the sprinkles too" — them's bragging rights right there.

Stella explained that her reason for making these is that she is working for a bakery that wants to have everything made in house — even decorations. So that pushed her to come up with these DIY sprinkles. You can see her recipe here:

Rainbow Sprinkles at BraveTart

This is basically a recipe for royal icing, piped into long thin stripes, and left to dry overnight. Then they are chopped into tiny bits, or sprinkles. Honestly, this is a piece of cake — so to speak.

Now, on to the action! I adjusted Stella's recipe a bit, cutting it in half, and using powdered egg whites instead of egg white.

Yield:
This recipe made about 1 ounce of sprinkles, which is enough to top between 3 and 4 dozen cookies or cupcakes. (To compare, most storebought bottles of sprinkles hold about 3 to 3.5 ounces.)

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What You Need

Ingredients
4 ounces (about 2 cups) confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon Just Egg Whites
1 tablespoon warm water, plus extra as needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla, almond, or lemon flavoring
Pinch salt

Tools
Parchment or wax paper
Food coloring paste (optional)
Toothpicks
Pastry bag
Pastry tip with very small round hole, such as Wilton No. 2

Instructions

1. Lay a piece of wax paper out on a clean surface. Gather your ingredients. Decide how you want to flavor your sprinkles. You can leave them unflavored, or use vanilla or another flavoring. I used Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Flour, which gave my sprinkles a distinct taste of Creamsicles.

2. Sift the confectioner's sugar into a medium-sized bowl. It's very important to sift the sugar in this case, because even the tiniest lump will clog your pastry tip later. So sift the sugar through a sieve or a sifter.

3. About Just Egg Whites, or powdered egg whites: This is a substitute for raw egg. You could also use about half of a raw egg white, but I find this stuff useful for royal icing and other recipes that call for raw egg white.

4. Whisk 1 teaspoon of the powdered egg whites together with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Whisk until smooth and foamy. Whisk in the flavoring and a pinch of salt.

5. Mix the egg white liquid into the powdered sugar and stir to combine. The mixture will probably look clumpy and thick, as pictured.

6. Add additional water in 1/2 teaspoon increments until the mixture is smooth and liquid, yet still thick.

7. I am not giving a specific amount of water here, because it depends on the powdered sugar and even the humidity of the day. But you want a smooth, thick, pipe-able frosting like the one pictured above.

8. Choose your food coloring, if using. It's best to use the paste or gel type of food coloring, as opposed to liquid. The colors are more vibrant, and they don't significantly change the texture of your icing the way extra liquid will.

9. Using the tip of a toothpick place a dot of food coloring in your icing mix.

10. Stir thoroughly until the color is completely distributed.

11. Set up your pastry bag with your #2 (or similar) tip.

12. Fill the bag and press any air pockets out of the icing.

13. Pipe out a long, thin line of icing on the parchment or wax paper. It's best to keep the line as straight as you can, but it doesn't need to be perfectly straight. (See how wavy mine is!)

14. Repeat until all the icing is used up. Important: Let the icing strips dry for a full 24 hours, or at least overnight. In winter, like now, I let mine dry for about 20 hours, and they were fine.

15. When they are completely dry, line them up evenly against the edge of a flat knife, like a cleaver or santoku.

16. Chop into small pieces, or longer ones for jimmies. Store in an airtight container until using.

I do have to say that these tasted pretty fantastic. No waxy, chemical aftertaste; they just tasted a bit sweet, with some mellow citrus flavor. Just think — what about coffee sprinkles? Or bacon? The possibilities are endless.

Has anyone tried these? Got any tips? Or ideas for natural coloring?

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(Images: Faith Durand)

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