Tom & Jerry: A Harmonious Holiday Treat
by Neal Kielar, Tastemaker in Residence
Unlike the Cat & Mouse of the Same Name
What's a holiday without a little nostalgia? Or for that matter, without a specialty drink. And even better, a nostalgic, semi-obscure regional drink that inspired its own punch bowl serving sets?
That's what you get with a Tom & Jerry, a Midwest-centric (Wisconsin seems to be its popularity epicenter) cousin of the more universally known eggnog. It's milky thick, rich and sugary, but it has a flexible recipe you can use to amp up or dial down any of its qualities.
TOM & JERRY – THE DRINK
There is no definitive recipe for a great Tom & Jerry. The variations reflect diverse tastes and inventions, like adding coffee in place of some of the milk or adjusting the amount of sugar and/or spices. The core of the recipe, though, is always eggs, sugar, spices and spirits – usually brandy and rum. Here's a basic recipe from to start. Adjust, experiment and above all share:
INGREDIENTS FOR 24 SERVINGS
- 12 eggs
- 1-1/4 cup of confectioners sugar
- 20 ounces of rum and/or brandy (proportion to preference)
- 1-1/2 gallons of milk (whole is best but reduced fat can work, too)
- Spices to taste including nutmeg, allspice and/or cinammon
- Separate egg whites from yolks in two bowls. Using a whisk or mixer, whip the egg WHITES until frothy, and then slowly add and whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture forms stiffened peaks.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and spices (pinches to taste) to the egg YOLKS and beat while adding 4-6 tablespoons of spirits (brandy and/or rum). Blend thoroughly until the mixture is light yellow.
- Combine the two egg mixtures by folding the egg whites into the egg yolks. Set aside in a cool location or refrigerate depending on how ready you are to serving.
- Use a large stock [pot to heat the milk without bringing it to a boil – just to the point of small bubbles forming at the edge of the pot. Then reduce the heat but keep the milk hot.
- For serving, use cups that are at least at room temperature. Add ingredients in this order: 2-3 tablespoons of spirits followed by a heaping tablespoon of the combined egg mixture. Add hot milk to fill the cup but leave enough room for another dollop of the egg mixture. Then add spices to taste.