I have a mild, somewhat irrational obsession with sprinkles. I'm especially fond of sprinkles on ice cream or gelato, but I also like to add them to cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. The irrational part of my obsession stems from the fact that sprinkles really don't taste like much. Add to this the fact that I almost always insist upon the chocolate ones. (I make the occasional exception for soft vanilla ice cream, which obviously gets rainbow sprinkles.) There's barely a hint of cocoa in those brown bits and yet for me an ice cream cone just isn't complete without a dip in the chocolate sprinkle bucket. I think what I really like is the texture, the mild crunch that sprinkles add to soft frozen treats and creamy frostings.
So, why am I blabbering on about sprinkles? It's simple. I recently tasted the most sublime sprinkles: Pierre Marcolini's fondant chocolate vermicelles. Vermicelle is the fancy French word for sprinkles and trust me, Pierre Marcolini's creation deserves the name upgrade. (By the way, there are a lot of names for sprinkles including jimmies, which may or may not refer to the chocolate variety only, decorettes, essemets, and shots. Personally, I like the British term hundreds-and-thousands.) Made of dark couverture chocolate, Pierre Marcolini's vermicelle have taken my sprinkle obsession to a whole new level. They are made by straining solid chocolate through a ricer (that gadget you use for mashed potatoes and gnocchi), which results in delicate little sprinkles with just the right amount of crunch. I put mine atop chocolate ice cream for a decadent treat. Pierre Marcolini also recommends using them on baked goods, warm beverages, or even buttered toast, which is a popular (and if you ask me, genius) breakfast in Belgium .
Fondant chocolate vermicelles are available at Pierre Marcolini shops and online ($15 for a 140 gram jar). The vermicelle will only last about a year so be sure to sprinkle liberally.
Lauren Salkeld is an Assistant Editor at Epicurious.com. She has also worked at Bon Appétit, Chocolatier, and Pastry Art & Design magazines. She is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute's Classic Pastry Arts Program and has worked for New York's Bruno Bakery and at the DeGustibus Cooking School , as well as the Houghton Mifflin corporation. Her favorite foods include oysters, bacon, grilled cheese, mangos, and ice cream; she detests fennel.
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