This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
Every year, starting in the weeks following Thanksgiving and running through mid-April, my home cooking sheds its typically bright hue. Verdant green pastas, colorful salads, and flamboyant stir-fries are a mere summer daydream. Gone are the near-neon orange squashes and royal purple beets from my late fall CSA. My cozy season cooking adopts a neutral palate, a slew of browns and tans and taupes that would look chic on a Nora Ephron heroine but is rather lackluster against the glare of my off-white Crate and Barrel plates.
I know, lush winter greens exist. Tuscan kale can dress up a cauliflower soup or pot of beans like confetti on a vanilla cake. Still, my motivation to put on multiple layers and trek to my grocery store for picked-over veggies wanes. Comfort food, often the shelf-stable type, reigns.
Luckily for my mood, and my cooking, an ingredient lurking on my spice rack completely transformed my drab weather cooking: Fancy Sprinkle’s Edible Glitter. Often used to decorate twee cocktails or cakes, this glitzy, fine powder has made its way onto all types of savory fare in my kitchen, sprucing up and inspiring what would otherwise be lackluster mid-winter meals.
The obsession started with a box of unicorn-shaped mac and cheese, the emergency provision I hoard in the highest corner of my cabinet (only accessible by stepstool and desperate reach) for those days when only powdered cheese will do. As I stirred the unicorn heads and stars, I realized that, although no one in Kraft R&D asked me, this cheer-me-up meal would be even better with a small addition: sparkles.
I grabbed a tiny jar of Fancy Sprinkles’ amethyst purple Prism Powder from the pantry, left over from a recipe-development project I’d never quite gotten off the ground. I dispersed the gleaming flecks over my bowl of fantasy-shaped pasta with a small spoon. My mood immediately lightened. The noodles were beautiful. Brag-worthy. Post-worthy. The glitter had no taste whatsoever, no nutritional value, no purpose other than sparking joy. Isn’t that what comfort food is all about?
After uncapping that first jar of Prism Powder, a sparkly culinary monster emerged from within. If glitter was so good on a low-rent noodle, how much better could it get from here? Spoiler: Much. The glitter goes a long way—just a few shakes from the $14 jar significantly coats a portion of food with enough gleam to feel both economical and special, like a showering of parm. My favorite way to adorn a dish with glitter: a small mesh strainer. Hold the strainer over the food and gently tap to allow glitter to disperse in a sparkly shower over your dish, as if you were dusting a cake with icing sugar. A makeup brush or fingertip works for dense applications, and Fancy Sprinkles also sells a dusting pump for easy, low mess spray application.