In New England, chocolate sprinkles are often called jimmies. While the origin of the word is unclear, many claim that they were named after a man named Jimmy who operated the sprinkle machine at the Just Born candy company in Brooklyn. Eventually, sprinkles began to be produced in other colors other than the original chocolate, and that's how rainbow sprinkles were born.
Rainbow desserts hit their stride in 1990, when Pillsbury released its ingenious mix for Funfetti cake, a yellow cake with rainbow sprinkles, and the masses' love of rainbow-colored sweets hasn't gone away since. Today, you can find birthday cake-flavored everything, from ice cream to cookies. Even some of the country's best pastry chefs have embraced rainbow-sprinkle nostalgia.
Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City, Washington D.C. and Toronto famously takes the scraps from a birthday cake and recycles them into her popular birthday cake truffles.
When we told Obolsky about our newfound love of funfetti, she sent us to chef Jen Yee of Lafayette in New York City, who uses small round pastel sprinkles to top birthday cake macarons. "First, they're fun to look at," Yee said. "And when you find out they're birthday cake flavor, that just piques your curiosity. Sprinkles make things happy and whimsical."
Inspired by her enthusiasm, we set out to take a classic dessert and funfetti-fy it (see the recipe and watch the video). We landed on a napoleon cake—crisp layers of puff pastry filled with a cream filling and glazed with a geometric black-and-white royal icing. Black, white and brown—this dessert was in desperate need of some color.
Instead of using the classic diplomat cream (custard lightened with whipped cream), we chose a less-sweet mascarpone filling to balance out all the sprinkles. And for the ultimate centerpiece, rainbow icing is added in the classic napoleon cake pattern.
So even if you think you've moved on from rainbow sprinkles, the power of funfetti can easily pull you back in and cover your life in sprinkles—but only if you let it.
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