Original 1860s Tom & Jerry Batter by Jerry Thomas
This is the Original 1860s Jerry Thomas recipe for the tom and Jerry from his 1862 Edition of The Bartenders Guide.
- 12 Eggs
- 8 cups (2 kg) of sugar
- 2 oz (60 mLs) gold rum
- 1 tsp (5 g) ground cloves
- 1 tsp (5 g) ground allspice
- 1 tsp (5 g) ground cinnamon
Separate the egg whites and yolks. Add the spices and sugar to the egg whites and beat the whites to a stiff meringue. Beat the egg yolks to thin them out a bit and then mix them in with the meringue.
Original Recipe vs. Modern Recipes vs. This Improved 1860s Recipe
Modern recipes are quite a bit fattier than the original and I can see why. Fats like butter prevent the egg proteins from linking together when heated but butter also completely changes the drinks flavor. I did quite a few experiments and the issue with this recipe is you can not use hot water or hot milk, because it will cook the egg whites and make the drink lumpy. Only warm water works. Every recipe you find on line that is not fatty does not use actually hot water but just warmed water or milk. This is a common issue for desserts like flan and soufflé and thus why they are cooked in water baths to prevent them from getting too hot. The trick to maintaining the flavor of the original Tom and Jerry and making it so the drink does not get lumpy when hot water is added, is to make this like a custard. Adding a small amount of thickened cornstarch will not change the flavor or texture of the drink and prevents the egg proteins from binding into poached eggs.
The more modern butter or heavy cream filled tom and jerry recipes are good but to me they are bit too thick. Too close to an egg nog in my opinion. What I like about the original recipe is its flavorful and very drinkable. Not too thin and not too thick, but it doesn’t heat well. Anytime a Tom and Jerry recipe calls for hot water or milk they mean “lightly heated”. This makes for a lukewarm drink that feels like it was forgotten on the counter. By simply adding a cornstarch slurry this improved version is both true to the original flavor and texture while also being able to be heated like a proper hot drink. (I also reduced the sugar, as it was WAY to sweet). It all comes down to personal preference and the best way to find out is to make each one and try them.
Should You Buy It Or Make It
A jar or bucket of Tom & Jerry batter are oddly expensive considering these are ingredients you probably have in your fridge right now. Its mostly a midwest drink too, so if you don’t live in the midwest its hard to find. Making Tom and Jerry Batter does require a small amount of baking skills too as meringue is not the easiest ingredient to make right and you will need an electric mixer of some sort (hand mixer is fine, it doesn’t have to be one of those larger KitchenAid ones). Do not try and make this by hand with a balloon whisk. Making meringue with a whisk is almost impossible. You need an egg beater or electric mixer otherwise your forearms will be on fire.
Again if you do not live in the midwest than you are kinda forced to make this yourself but even if you do a homemade Tom and Jerry Batter is worth it. Better product, you know what you put in it, easily adjust the sweetness to your taste, much cheaper to make it than buy it, and it only take about 15 minutes to make.
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