Saturday, 19 April 2014

{COOKBOOK REVIEW}: Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers

I'm going to be honest with you ... I don't like eating sprinkles. Wait, let me explain. I love sprinkles. I think they're fun and pretty, and an effortless way to bring life to a bake and my kitchen cupboards are stocked full of them. I enjoy playing with them and have used them in many recipes, but I do not enjoy putting them in my mouth. I always pick them out, which by the way isn't always so easy to do. I never liked them as a kid, and remember wincing when the icecream man chucked a load of rainbow coloured sprinkles onto my Mr Whippy. My frown and the tears in my eyes confused him.

However, as I flipped through Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers and discovered all the incredible sprinkle laden treats, I couldn't help but wonder if I had been missing out all those years. So I put it to the test. I've found that I actually like the 'normal' kind of sprinkles, you know the ones that are really tiny. It's the bigger ones I have a problem with, so substitutions will be made. I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter all that much. 

Anyway. How best can I describe this cookbook? It's like a unicorn threw up on it. But in a good way. It's cute, quirky, and just magical. I've only tried a few recipes so far, but it's definitely one of the more fun cookbooks I own and I have ambitious plans to try them all.

As Alpers points out, you don't have to be a pastry chef to play with sprinkles, and the book is packed full of recipes and how-tos anyone can try. I'm no stranger to dressing my bakes with sprinkles, but I had no idea just how extensive the 'world of sprinkles' really is ... There's sprinkles, but then there's jimmies, hagelslags (huh? what's that?), nonpareils, dragees, pearls, glitters, confetti, sugars, chocolate bits, lay-ons, and more! Alpers introduces you to each sort, complete with a visual aid and examples of each one, plus combo suggestions. And, in case you're still wondering what hagelslag is - it means 'hailstorm' and is a Dutch variety of chocolate sprinkles used for breakfast, although vanilla and fruit flavours are also available.

You may also be surprised to discover the different number of 'sprinkling methods'. I tend to just hold my hands up high and let the sprinkles land where they like, but it was interesting to discover other numerous (eleven, to be exact) different methods I could be using.

Once you're brought up to speed on your sprinkle varieties and applications, the recipes are divided into three chapters. What better way to start the day than with Breakfast Sweets? With recipes like Fancified Doughnuts and Sprinkles-Stuffed French Toast you'll enjoy that most important meal of the day so much more.

I tried the Fairy Bread Sandwiches from the chapter. They are incredibly cute, and would be perfect for picnics and birthday parties. You can mix and match the spinkles and spreads you choose to play with, and are great fun for the kids, too. And the best part of all is how effortless they are to make - they will literally take you less than two minutes and with barely any clear up! Never again will you find yourself in a dilemma when guests show up unannounced and you've got nothing in (because we've all got bread, butter and sprinkles in our pantry, right?), or your kids are bored of their colouring books. For the full recipe, click here.

I also tried the Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti from the chapter. It was my second attempt at a biscotti, and I enjoyed it so much more than my first. I drank so much coffee just so I had an excuse to dunk them!

The recipe makes two logs - one of which unfortunately spread too thin in the oven and turned into a gloopy mess (I still ate it, and it was damn delicious). Dotted with chocolate chips and pistachio, and sprinkled with nonpareils to finish, the log that did survive didn't last very long. It smelled wonderful and I loved the flavours and the different textures, without any worrys of chipping a tooth. To see how I got on and for the full recipe, click here.

The second chapter is Cookies, Cakes, and Pies, and features recipes such as Strawberry Tea Cupcakes (baked right in the teacups and perfect for tea parties!), a Rainbow Layer Cake, and a crazy and fun looking Confetti Popcorn Cake (my jaw dropped).

I attempted the Windowpane Cookies, and while the recipe itself is relatively straightforward and easy, I had the hardest time crushing the candy and also stupidly forgot my oven mitts and burned my hand. All the pain and effort was worth it though because by the end of it I was rewarded with the prettiest cookies! If you hold them up against the light they really do look like stained glass windows. I love how versatile the idea is - you can play around with different cookie cutters and candy colours for any kind of event or occassion, and they would make great gifts. To see how I got on, click here, or for the full recipe, click here.

The third chapter is all about adding some 'pizzazz' to finger food with Snacks and Party Fare. The Sweetheart Party Popcorn will definitely be making an appearance at my next party, and just looking at the Starry Night Fruit Leather makes me go weak at the knees.

Even though there are so many sprinkle varieties available, sometimes you just can't find ones the right shape, or the right colour, or in my case the right size. Or, sometimes you do, but shipping costs more than the sprinkles itself. Ugh. But, did you know you can actually make your own sprinkles? I had no idea! Forget the factory mass-produced stuff, you can custom create these little pieces of edible happiness from scratch. Besides being inexpensive, you're free to be as creative as you like, make as much as you want, and even meet dietary needs. There's a certain comfort in knowing exactly what's gone into the stuff you eat. Remember how I only like the small ones? Now I can make them as small as I like!

All the recipes come paired with a beautiful photograph, although I would expect nothing less from an award-winning photographer. The recipes are really straightforward and easy to follow. Some of which are suitable for the kids to try, and even make together with friends. The cookbook has 'fun' written all over it and there's not a single recipe I wouldn't consider serving at a special occasion or a party!


  Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers is published by Quirk Books. © Quirk Books.

*Disclosure: The recipes from the book posted on this blog have been done so with permission. I received a review copy of the book. The opinions, as always, are my own. 


Lilli @ Sugar and Cinnamon said...

There's so many cute ideas here! I agree, the idea of sprinkles is so much more fun than the actual eating of them!

ThisGirlBlogs said...

It's overloaded with cute ideas and is so much fun. And yay, finally someone who gets it!

Kat Buckley said...

Those sandwiches are so cute!

ThisGirlBlogs said...

And so delicious, too!

cheri said...

So many great ideas, love the stained glass hanging cookie.

Aiza said...


ThisGirlBlogs said...

Isn't it just so pretty?! Edible decorations are a win.

ThisGirlBlogs said...


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