The Joy of Chocolate Sprinkles
Sprinkles - the sweet candy topping used on ice cream, frozen yogurt, cookies, cakes, donuts, and even bread – are called many different names throughout the world. In the United States and especially in the northeast, we refer to sprinkles as “jimmies.” In England, they are called “hundreds and thousands” and in Holland, sprinkles are called “hagelslag.” The French call sprinkles “decoratifs” meaning “decorations” or “nonpareils” meaning “without parallel” or “vermicelles.” Whatever you call this sweet confection, chocolate sprinkles are a delicious treat that shouldn’t be abandoned in adulthood.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved chocolate sprinkles with my earliest memory being a soft serve chocolate ice cream cone dipped in chocolate sprinkles (one can never have enough chocolate) at the local Dairy Queen. I thought whoever invented sprinkles (and this is hotly disputed) was a genius and those who manufactured them were providing a much needed public service. But, when I grew up I realized not all sprinkles are created equal. In my search for the ultimate chocolate sprinkle, I realized there are three types:
Chocolate Sprinkles that Contain no Cocoa: Many brands sold in supermarkets and on-line are made with the following ingredients: sugar, vegetable oil, corn starch, corn syrup, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, confectioners glaze, and carnauba wax. The ingredient list does not include cocoa and yet the confections are called “chocolate sprinkles” or “chocolate flavored sprinkles.” These sprinkles look like real chocolate sprinkles but they lack a rich chocolate flavor and the slight crunch of a real chocolate sprinkle. My mind screams “imposter” when I see these.
Chocolate Sprinkles made with Cocoa and Artificial Additives: These sprinkles contain cocoa along with additives (i.e. corn syrup) and artificial vanilla (vanillin). Better than sprinkles with no cocoa, these sprinkles are acceptable, but not great. Guittard’s chocolate sprinkles fall into this category.
Chocolate Sprinkles made with Cocoa and no Additives: These sprinkles contain cocoa and/or chocolate and, thankfully do not contain vegetable oils, corn syrup, or artificial flavors. The taste and texture of real chocolate sprinkles are so deliciously different from other versions that adults realize sprinkles are not just for kids. These sprinkles are one of three foods I always travel with (the other two being thick cut rolled oats and granola) because I never know when I may stop at a frozen yogurt or ice cream store and need the perfect topping.
The only manufacturer of chocolate sprinkles that falls into the third category (that I know of) is a Belgian company - Callebaut who has a French division called Cacao Barry. Cacao Barry has been making chocolate products in France since 1842 and joined Callebaut 16 years ago in 1996. The company makes scrumptious chocolate sprinkles called “vermicelles” with six ingredients: sugar, unsweetened chocolate (41%), cocoa powder, butterfat, whole milk powder, and natural vanilla.
Cacao Barry sprinkles can be purchased from various websites including Chocosphere who sells them in the original 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds or 35 ounces) box for $17.95 or a 500 gram bag (1.1 pounds or 17.5 ounces) for $10.95 plus shipping (but if an order is $50 or more, shipping is free). The 2.2 pound box is also available from www.pastrychef.com for $15.99 plus shipping.
Two pounds of sprinkles may seem like a lot of sprinkles but they go quickly in our home. The box is easy to store and contains a small pouring sprout which makes it convenient to pour the sprinkles without making a mess. Surprisingly, Cacao Barry chocolate sprinkles are comparable (and often less expensive) in cost to sprinkles that don’t contain cocoa and those that contain vegetable oil, corn syrup and artificial additives. So, don’t settle for the inferior products – buy the real thing and after one taste, you’ll question why you ever stopped eating chocolate sprinkles.