KIDS underfoot in the holidays? Get them to work in the kitchen with some easy baking and who knows? You may end up with a budding chef on your hands.
My son decided at the age of 12 to train as a chef and did his year 10 work experience in the kitchen of a very busy Italian restaurant in Sydney run by a family friend.
The experience was enough to put him off the idea of cooking professionally, but it did spark a genuine interest in cooking good food (albeit on a smaller scale).
At the age of 29, he is now the primary preparer of food in his household and he does a great job.
He began cooking at an early age and has gone from strength to strength; I think it was the chefs' lack of a social life that prevented him from fulfilling that pre-teen dream.
Today's recipe is a simple one for kids as it uses frozen sweet shortcrust pastry tart shells, available from the freezer section at the supermarket or deli.
Littlies will need a hand with chopping the chocolate up and getting the baking tray in and out of the oven.
Older children should manage without too much trouble.
These little morsels are quite rich so limit them to one per serve per day.
You can pop a fresh raspberry into the middle of each tart as a variation if you like.
I've used rum or brandy essence in this recipe; if you are making them for grownups you can use the real deal if you prefer.
Scones are also a quick and easy choice, as are cupcakes.
Keep it simple and teach the kids to clean up as they go to save a huge mess at the end; it's a good idea to have a sink full of warm soapy water to rinse utensils and bowls as they go.
Knives should never be left in a sink of water as they are difficult to spot and accidents can occur. That rule applies for adults as well!
Little chocolate tarts
Makes 12 tarts
12 frozen mini sweet shortcrust pastry cases, thawed
400ml thickened cream
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
2 free-range eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tspn rum or brandy essence
2 tblspn baking cocoa or powdered drinking chocolate for dusting
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a baking tray and place thawed pastry cases on it.
Place cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water.
Stir until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
Remove bowl from heat and beat in eggs one at a time, followed by the sugar and essence.
Spoon filling into pastry cases and bake at 180°C for 10-12 minutes or until just set.
Remove from oven and cool slightly; sift cocoa over each tart.
VARIATION: Place a fresh raspberry in the centre of each tart before baking.
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