retro recipes for the modern baker

Fifteens

Fifteens are a classic Northern Irish traybake, if not THE classic traybake.

Fifteens are also a no-bake traybake and aren’t usually made in a tray. So, perhaps a little confusing to the uninitiated.

They are sweet and sticky and delicious and also freeze well, so you can always have some close at hand.  If you are going to put some in the freezer, I’d advise placing them between sheets of parchment paper, so they don’t stick together.

When it comes to crushing the biscuits for this traybake, there are a number of approaches you can take. For speed and simplicity – but also creating more washing-up – you can blitz them in a food processor. Alternatively, you can place them in a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, which is a great technique for releasing any pent-up aggression. My preferred technique, at least for Digestives, is to put them in a bowl and crush them with my hands. Digestive biscuits are a little softer and easier to crush by hand than graham crackers, so my method varies depending on what I have in the larder.

Traditionally, Fifteens are made in a roll. But, if you prefer, you can press it into a lined tin instead and sprinkle the top with coconut.

A roll of classic Northern Irish no-bake traybake Fifteens.
Ingredients

15 Digestive biscuits (or Graham Crackers), crushed

15 marshmallows, chopped into small pieces

15 glacé cherries (candied cherries), quartered

½ a 396g/14oz tin of condensed milk

desiccated coconut (unsweetened flaked coconut)

Method
  1. Crush the biscuits until they are mostly crumbs, leaving a few larger pieces (about the size of a hazelnut) for texture and place in a large bowl. 
  2. Add the chopped marshmallows and cherries.  I find that using kitchen scissors to chop the marshmallows is, by far, the easiest method.  If the scissors get too sticky, dip them into your crushed biscuits and the crumbs will cover the stickiness.
  3. Pour in the condensed milk and mix until everything comes together, adding a little more condensed milk if you need it.
  4. Place the mixture onto some foil or parchment paper and shape into a log.  Cover the outside of the log with the coconut and roll around until it’s covered on all sides.
  5. Wrap it up tightly in a roll and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  Slice and enjoy.
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8 Comments

  1. Jmk

    Savage

  2. Vanessa Chin

    A lovely walk down memory lane; thank you!
    I’m very happily living my life in Canberra, Australia but grew up and lived most of my life in Northern Ireland. I’ve lost count of the tray bakes I made for PTAs and church bazaars: even our cats enjoyed the bits and bobs that found their way to the floor🤗.
    Now I find a whole new generation of grandchildren who are new … and very appreciative😉 to ‘old’ and in many cases, forgotten, recipes! Rolling my sleeves up but waiting for my troop of helpers who will make ‘15s’ for the 1st time ever – later this week … thanks again!

    • CJ

      Thank you!

  3. Vanessa Chin

    A lovely walk down memory lane; thank you!
    I’m very happily living my life in Canberra, Australia but grew up and lived most of my life in Northern Ireland. I’ve lost count of the tray bakes I made for PTAs and church bazaars: even our cats enjoyed the bits and bobs that found their way to the floor🤗.
    Now I find a whole new generation of grandchildren who are new … and very appreciative😉 to ‘old’ and in many cases, forgotten, recipes! Rolling my sleeves up but waiting for my troop of helpers who will make ‘15s’ for the 1st time ever – later this week … thanks again!ll

  4. Beth

    Flashback to every church event ever. I always loved these but never knew what they were called so didn’t know where to start looking for a recipe. Looking forward to making them tomorrow, thank you! 🙂

    • CJ

      Hope they taste as you remember! Thank you.

      • Beth

        Honestly, they were EXACTLY the taste I remember. We demolished the whole lot shamefully quickly – less than 22 hours from sliced to gone! 😋😳🙈😂

        Tbh I was quite surprised that the taste was so spot on because I’m severely lactose intolerant, this was my first try of Carnation’s Vegan Condensed Milk in anything and I was convinced it’d turn this favourite into a pale imitation of the real deal but honestly there wasn’t a difference 🥳🥳🥳.

        Don’t have much patience for the whole vegan thing but it may be helpful for folk to know there’s something so easily done for encounters with awkward guests/friends etc. 🤷🏻‍♀️

        • CJ

          Thanks for letting me know! Glad they were a success.

          They do freeze well, which can put them out of sight so you don’t eat as many. But they really don’t need much defrosting before you can eat them, so I’m not sure it helps in the end!

          Good to know on the vegan condensed milk too. I haven’t tried it yet.

          Thanks again!

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