Tom and Jerry

An American holiday essential from the 1830s through the 1960s, the Tom and Jerry still hangs on in the Midwest, where folks have a healthy respect for tradition and aren’t afraid of a little milk fat, egg, and alcohol. Properly prepared, there are few things more festive than a steaming mug of Tom and Jerry or three. This should serve at least twenty-four (or twelve Anglo-Saxons).

1 dozen eggs
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cognac
1/2 ounce vanilla extract (optional)
1 bottle cognac
1 bottle dark full-bodied rum
2 quarts hot milk
To finish: freshly grated nutmeg

Separate the eggs. Beat the whites into stiff peaks (this will take a while). Combine the yolks with 1 cup sugar and beat them until they are completely smooth, gradually incorporating the 4 ounces of cognac and, if you’re so inclined, the vanilla. Carefully fold the whites into the yolks.

To serve, put a heaping tablespoon of this batter in a small mug or tumbler and stir in 1 ounce each of cognac and dark, full-bodied rum (the cognac and rum can be premixed if you anticipate serving a lot of these). Fill to the top with hot milk, stir until you get foam, and sprinkle a little grated nutmeg on top.