Monday, December 10, 2012

Tom & Jerry

Tom & Jerry, which predates the lovable cartoon of the same name, is cousin to eggnog and a delightfully festive holiday drink. I first learned about the Tom & Jerry while rummaging through a weekend flea market in NYC, when I spotted a large bowl and set of mugs (akin to an eggnog bowl) labeled "Tom & Jerry." I went home and did some research and learned all about this delicious sounding beverage. The drink takes its name from its creator, famed bartender and "Professor" Jerry Thomas, who's considered by many to be the father of American cocktail mixology. Legend has it, he wouldn't make his beloved Tom & Jerry until after the first snowfall. Today, the drink is still drunk in the Midwest, while the rest of the country has been pretty much deprived. In fact, it's so popular in parts of the Midwest, you can find Tom and Jerry "mixes" in the supermarket. However, I've spotted an article on the Tom and Jerry in the recent edition of Edible Manhattan (which I've pulled inspiration from) so hopefully it's beginning to catch on!

To get in the holiday spirit, I made a batch of Tom & Jerry for Aaron and I to enjoy while decorating our Christmas tree. This year, we thought ahead and started decorating our tree early in the evening. In years past, we'd forget how long it actually takes to decorate a tree and start at 10 pm. We'd usually give up in the wee hours of the morning and finish it the following day. I'm happy to say, we did it all in one night (a small accomplishment, I know). I think the Tom & Jerry's made decorating the tree especially jolly this year!

If you're feeling burnt out on eggnog this holiday season, give the Tom & Jerry a try. It's prepared in much the same way as eggnog, but includes more spices and both brandy and rum. I've concocted the recipe below from many different sources, but feel free to play around with it a bit. Some recipes call for more brandy to rum, rum to brandy, or equal measurements. I've opted for equal parts rum and brandy, but let your taste buds be your guide!

Adapted from Joe Wilfer, Edible Manhattan Nov./Dec. 2012 and various other sources 

6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (plus extra for garnish)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 lb. (about 2 cups) sifted confectioner's sugar
1 bottle dark rum
1 bottle brandy
Hot milk or water

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites using a handheld or stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Mix in the cream of tartar. Add the confectioner's sugar in batches. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten whites. 

Ladle a scoopful of batter into each mug. Stir 2 tbsp. each brandy and rum into each mug and top with hot milk or water. Stir well, garnish each mug with freshly grated nutmeg, and imbibe! 

Yield: 10 to 15 servings (depending on the size of your mugs)

  • Be sure to use good quality eggs for your Tom & Jerry, ones that come from vegetarian grain fed hens and are free of antibiotics, hormones, and other additives. I get my eggs at the farmer's market from Feather Ridge Farms. You can also use pasteurized eggs if you're worried about consuming raw egg. 
  • Leave the liquor out of some of the mugs to serve to the kids! For the faint of heart, feel free to decrease the liquor to 1 tbsp. each brandy and rum.

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