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If sprinkles could taste like anything in the world, what would they taste like?
Rainbows, right? And candy-coated, artificially flavored, little nuggets of childlike happiness. That is, after all, what sprinkles mean to us, and it's why we all, deep down, have a soft spot for them.
But what do they actually taste like? The answer's less exciting: wax.
But what if sprinkles could taste as fun and joyful as we imagine them to be?
That's where sprinkles ice cream comes in. It's a popular flavor at neo-retro ice cream parlors like Williamsburg's OddFellow's, and with good reason: what funfetti cake is to baking, sprinkles are to ice cream.
But if I'm going to eat an ice cream with sprinkles, I'd like it to taste just as fun as it looks. Most sprinkle ice creams are made with a plain sweet cream base to which the sprinkles are added almost as an afterthought. The result is sweet and cold and delightfully ice creamy, but nothing about it screams sprinkles.
So I've been thinking—what should sprinkles taste like? And how can we make them taste that way?
You got it? Yup—kid's cereal. Specifically, fruity cereal marketed to kids because it looks like brightly colored candy. Trix and Froot Loops certainly work in this recipe, but my personal go-to is the brightest, most artificially flavored of them all: Fruity Pebbles.
Cereal milk ice cream is nothing new—at least not since Momofuku's Christina Tosi started selling cornflake-flavored soft serve ice cream at her East Village bakery. But cereal ice creams can also play well in applications besides replicating the flavor of cereal itself. If you didn't tell someone how you made this ice cream, they may not be able to guess its origins. They might even assume it just tastes like pure colorful joy, which is, after all, the whole point of sprinkles.
A mere 20 minutes is enough to leech all the colorful flavor out of your cereal. Steep for less time and you may not draw enough of the good stuff out of your Fruity Pebbles; wait too long and the cereal may soak up too much liquid and impart more of the cereal's malty flavors than you're looking for. In this recipe, four cups of dairy yield three cups of cereal milk after straining, which is enough to make one quart of ice cream.
After straining your cereal milk, you'll be left with a mass of cream-soaked mush. It's best discarded.
Making this ice cream answered another burning question of mine: what color do you get when you mash a handful of Fruity Pebbles together? The answer, somewhat disturbingly, is....flesh. But don't worry—by the time you actually churn this ice cream, it'll lighten in color to a lovely pink, as you see in the photo up top.
And how does it taste? Here's Daniel attacking the paddle from my ice cream maker after I finished churning a test batch, and I'll let him tell you: "This tastes like fun."