What Is The Original 1860s Tom & Jerry Batter Recipe by Jerry Thomas?
For knowledge and posterity, 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 (2.5 g) ground cloves
- 1 tsp (2.5 g) ground allspice
- 1 tsp (2.5 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 and then mix them with the meringue.
What Is The Difference Between The Original Tom And Jerry Bater Recipe And This Improved One?
The only difference between the original Tom & Jerry recipe and this one is that I halved the sugar and added cornstarch to the meringue. My goal was to maintain the original flavor and spirit of the drink while using a little science to stabilize it. I did quite a few experiments, and the issue with the original recipe is that you can not use hot water or hot milk because it will cook the egg whites and curdle the meringue—only warm water will work. This is a common issue for desserts like flan and soufflé and why they are cooked in water baths to prevent them from getting too hot or tempered and constantly whisked like Hollandaise. The trick to maintaining the original Tom and Jerry flavor and making it so that the drink does not curdle when hot water is added is to make this like a custard. Adding a small amount of thickened cornstarch will not change the drink’s flavor or texture and prevents the egg proteins from binding into scrambled eggs. This is specifically a technique for stabilizing Boston Cream fillings.
Cornstarch is a stabilizer in the dextrin family. One of the properties of dextrins is that they stabilize proteins from denaturing and binding together in high heat and acidic environments. It is also flavor neutral (unlike other dextrins like all-purpose flour) and does not need to be cooked before use. By adding a small cornstarch slurry, this improved version is true to the original’s flavor and texture while being able to be rapidly heated without issue. I also reduced the sugar, as it was just too sweet, in my opinion. That all comes down to personal preference, though.
Should I Make A Tom & Jerry With Butter or Heavy Cream?
Most modern Tom and Jerry recipes have butter, or heavy cream added, but that was not part of the original recipe. These recipes are good, but they are a bit too thick. Too close to egg nog in texture and taste. What makes the classic recipe so nice is its flavorful and light. Not too thin and not too thick. Like the addition of warm milk instead of water, the idea of using butter and heavy cream is to add extra creaminess to the drink. And don’t get me wrong, these recipes are good too, but the appeal of a Tom And Jerry is its mousse-like texture.
Should You Buy Tom & Jerry Batter Or Make It?
A jar or bucket of Tom & Jerry batter is oddly expensive, considering these are ingredients you probably have in your fridge right now. It’s mostly a midwest drink too, so it’s hard to find if you don’t live in the midwest. Making Tom and Jerry Batter does require some baking skills, too, as the meringue is not the easiest ingredient to make right, and you will need an electric mixer of some sort (a 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. It would help if you had an egg beater or electric mixer; otherwise, your forearms will be on fire.
Again, if you do not live in the midwest, you are 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 takes about 15 minutes to complete.
NOTE: If what you are looking for is the Tom & Jerry drink recipe the link for that is here. Also, the video attached to this recipe below provides simple step-by-step instructions to make the batter and drink.
10 thoughts on “Tom & Jerry Batter – Classic Recipe & History”
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Why don’t you cook the egg yolk
That’s a good question, and the mixture does cook once it is mixed with hot water. The fat in the egg yolks helps protect the egg white proteins from forming large clumps when mixed with alcohol. The alcohol will try to bond with the yolk fats and egg white proteins, but it prefers to bond with fat. By bonding with the fat, it will not bond to the meringue and “cook it,” letting it form clumps like scrambled eggs. It’s the same way the heavy cream doesn’t curdle in a White Russian, but milk (or even half and half) will.
I suppose you could double-boil it and continuously whisk it like hollandaise, but cooking it before mixing it into a drink would run the risk of it forming large clumps. I’m not sure if the fat in the yolks would still protect the meringue if they were cooked. I can experiment with that in the future. Thank you for asking!
do you have a recipe where this contains the crack?
Lol When I first read this I thought it was for my original 1880s Coca-cola recipe and you were referring to cocaine. I’m not sure I know what you mean by crack?
Can the batter be stored, and if so, how and for how long? I’m thinking the batter would be a great Jar Gift if I knew how to store the batter to advise the recipient (along with the drink recipe)
Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep long, even in the refrigerator. This is typically made the same day it will be used. Even with the corn starch to stabilize it, the raw meringue will weep a little after a day and start to look slightly off. What I would do is freeze it. Raw meringue freezes well. You just have to ensure it is frozen when presenting it as a gift. Hot buttered rum mixture also makes a good gift and doesn’t have the same complexities Tom and Jerry batter does. Here is a link to my recipe for that. https://vintageamericancocktails.com/spiced-butter-batter/
Thank you for the tip on the corn starch! I have seen other recipes calling instead for cream of tartar, does that serve the same purpose?
Also, I’ve seen recipes calling for powdered sugar, or superfine, rather than regular granulated. What is your opinion on type of sugar used? I imagine you’d want to reduce the amount of sugar of using powdered? Cheers and thank you again for the recipe, the science, and vintageamericancocktails.com!
Thank you! Adding cornstarch makes all the difference in the final product. Cornstarch is common in Boston creams because it lets the eggs cook without forming large scrambled egg-like clumps or having to temper it slowly and constantly whisk like a hollandaise.
Cream of Tartar is a great thing to add, and I add it to meringues too. Cream of tartar is a gentler form of tartaric acid, and it helps chemically break down the egg proteins so they can fluff up into a meringue. Beating the eggs mechanically breaks the proteins, and Cream of Tartar helps accelerate that process. It’s more beneficial for huge batches of meringue, so you’re not beating them all day. Cornstarch is a dextrin-type stabilizer (which also includes all-purpose flour), and as the article mentions, they bond to cooked proteins and help prevent them from bonding to other proteins to form a large clump. You can use both, and it wouldn’t be an issue. Just make the meringue whichever way you have the most success making meringues.
Granulated and superfine sugar are both fine but do not use powdered sugar/confectioners sugar. Powdered sugar is 10% (I think, but I might be wrong) cornstarch to act as an anti-caking for the sugar. It works great for icing, but If you add any cornstarch at the start of the process, the broken-down egg whites will never bond together into a fluffy meringue. And I personally have never had good results adding sugar at the end of making a meringue. Sugar crystals get between the unfolded egg proteins and prevent them from deflating back into a wet uncooked egg white. It just works better if you add sugar at the start, in my experience. When I have added it at the end (which is when you would add powdered sugar), I still get a little melting after 30 minutes, and a little bit of wet gross egg whites form at the bottom.
I’m so glad you like the recipe! Thank Jerry Thomas, I just added a couple modifications to his original recipe. Cheers and Merry Christmas!