Lake District

Lake District
Lake District



Recipe | Northern Irish Fifteens

I don't know how I'd lived in England for two whole years and had never noticed the absence of these delicious treats, but it wasn't until I was wandering the streets of London with my friend Tamsin, from A Certain Adventure, and idly mentioned that I'd just love a "fifteen", her complete confusion as to what that was, kind of stopped me in my tracks.

At the time I thought maybe they just weren't as popular in London, until I got back to Lancaster and asked my housemates if they knew what they were, but they had never heard of them either. Long story short, it took me ten minutes of frantic googling to discover that they are actually an exclusively Northern Irish thing. How I never realised this, I genuinely do not know. In any case, I'm proud, they're amazing, and I thus feel it my duty to share them with the rest of the world.

Basically fifteens are a traybake; a baked good or sweet food that is made as one whole piece and divided up for serving e.g. brownies, almond squares, caramel squares. In Northern Ireland we are religious about our traybakes. We also, for some reason, have an ever-growing coffee culture which is probably a contributing factor to this nationwide obsession. There are an absolute ton of coffee shops and cafes in Northern Ireland, all of which will have a fairly decent selection of traybakes, and you will easily find a fifteen down almost every town or village high street.

The only comparison I can think to make to a fifteen is probably a Tunnock's snowball, except there's no chocolate in them. They are so simple and easy to make- even ludicrously so- there is no baking involved, and they are ridiculously good. All you need is:

15 digestive biscuits
15 large marshmallows (halved)
15 glace cherries (halved)
160ml condensed milk
desiccated coconut

Just a little N.B. the measurements of ingredients in this recipe are just a guideline, the most important thing is having the right consistency at the end.


1. Sandwich bags
2. A rolling pin
3. A mixing bowl
4. Cling film


1.  First of all you're going to want to get a sandwich bag, or a few, basically as many that can easily hold your fifteen digestive biscuits. Then, take a rolling pin and either roll or whack the bag of digestives to crush them into fine little pieces. It's probably best to employ a combination of the two methods. Or, as Carlo and I did because we couldn't find sandwich bags or a rolling pin, hold both ends of the digestive biscuit packaging and hit it with a hammer (not recommended). It's basically the same procedure as you would follow if were making the base of a cheesecake.

2. Add your crushed digestives into a mixing bowl along with the marshmallows and cherries and mix together with the condensed milk. Basically you’re trying to make the mixture stick together as one whole, none of it should really be crumbling away from the rest and it should have a reasonably sticky texture. I’d recommend you add the condensed milk a little bit at a time and knead the mixture together until it’s sticking well.

3. Lay out a piece of cling film across a table or surface and sprinkle it liberally with a layer of desiccated coconut. Place the mixture onto the cling film and roll it into a sausage shape, ensuring that the coconut is being distributed evenly.

4. Wrap it the mixture up in the cling film and put in the fridge to harden for a couple of hours, then, take it out and cut it into slices. Traditionally, you would cut it into fifteen!

And that's that! If you end up giving this recipe a go I'd love it if you let me know either in the comments or on Twitter (@alphabethblog).

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