They’re sweet, they’re fun, but they’re actually kind of a pain — if you’re trying to photograph them.

Nah, not kids. Sprinkles.

For all their cuteness, those little colorful, crunchy things you find on desserts can be quite vexing.

“They are an exercise in controlled chaos — they roll, they’re small,” says local photographer Jackie Alpers, who wrote and shot a book dedicated to sprinkles. “They are uncontrollable, and that’s part of their charm.”

Alpers’ just-released book “Sprinkles: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts” (Quirk Books, $18.95) explores the wide world of the colorful confection.

The paperback shows you how to use them to decorate everything from doughnuts and waffles to more adult treats like glass rims for cocktails. Alpers even teaches you how you can make your own, a good way to use natural dyes for those with allergies.

Interestingly, Alpers has a healthy food blog — Jackieshappyplate.com — where you can peek at some photos with sprinkles. She says that, with the exception of the cake in the book’s cover photo, sprinkles aren’t that bad for you since you typically use them very sparingly.

“Sprinkles are a nice way to add just a bit of sweetness,” she says. “There’s something like 16 calories in a teaspoon, so the sugar is minimal. It’s a nice way to top off something that’s really healthy.”

Alpers feels she’s just scratched the surface of sprinkles.

“We only a little bit looked into savory sprinkles,” she says. “I’d love to do a second book.”

Contact reporter Kristen Cook at 573-4194 or kcook@azstarnet.com