Love Nakd bars but would rather make them from scratch? My Cocoa Orange Date Bars are a fab money saving copycat which are naturally gluten and dairy free. Read on to get the recipe and find out how I developed my copycat version of this great vegan snack.
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I am (ironically) not that good at snacking. Its not that I can’t snack. I can put away a whole packet of Viscounts or French Fancies in a (clogged) heartbeat.
I had a brief foray a year or two ago when I discovered that I could manage some carrot sticks and hummus. I can eat the occasional fun-size banana (don’t ask) but not much else!
The whole ‘handful of almonds’ or ‘stick of celery and tablespoon of unsweetened peanut butter’ shtick – yak! Peanut butter is best found in cheesecake!
Solving the Snack Problem
I have now discovered that I actually quite like date based energy bars. The kind that include no added sugar but still genuinely taste sweet and don’t feel like health food.
Just in case you are concerned, I am not advocating any kind of low anything or otherwise ‘clean’ diet. I just happen to like these bars and they just happen to have no added sugar or gluten in them. And they’re vegan.
I know I can cook and enjoy baking so when I noticed that Nakd rather handily (perhaps foolishly) provide its ingredients list with percentages, I decided that I’d try and recreate them at home. I am naturally inclined to experiment with food and I want to encourage everyone else to too!
I’ve since further solved my problem by creating a fab Popcorn Snack Mix which I vary depending on what I fancy and what I have on hand.
The Cost Benefit
My particular favourite date based bar is the Cocoa Orange Nakd variety. But their RRP is £2.50 for a pack of 4 (63p each) – ouch!
Overall I’m super pleased with how the Cocoa Orange Date Bars turned out. The dates aren’t clumpy, the bars look, feel and taste almost identical to the original Nakd version and they work out cheaper to make for fairly little effort.
I’ve calculated the ingredient costs as follows (updated Oct 2019 and based on Sainsbury’s products only. Aldi/Lidl will likely be even cheaper):
|Ingredient||Unit Size||Unit Cost||Portion Size||Portion Cost|
10 bars cost £3.29 in total and so my bars cost just 33p each to make. That’s a saving of 30p each – nearly half price!
Make Cocoa Orange Date Bars into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
Ingredients for Cocoa Orange Date Bars
There are obviously endless possibilities of flavour combinations to be tried here. Try subbing other nuts like – pecans, walnuts or the ubiquitous almond and other dried fruits for variety. I have bought a bag of dried figs to try for example and a friend recently experimented with dried apricots.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
Its not that often I get to say this but these Cocoa Orange Date Bars are naturally suitable for vegetarians and vegans!
Make it Allergy Friendly
More good news if you have to avoid certain food groups. These bars contain no dairy, egg or gluten.
Nut Free: There are however lots of nuts involved so should be avoided by nut-allergy suffers. If tiger nuts don’t need to be avoided, you could try those as a substitute for the cashews.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Cocoa Orange Date Bars
I used a 900g/2lb Loaf Tin to get my bars into a similar bar shape and size to Nakd. But you could use almost anything to shape them, including just rolling them into balls.
To see more of my recommended equipment items for new bakers, have a look at my post featuring all the essential equipment you might need.
It is also perfect inspiration for gifts for a budding baker in your life!
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
No pre-prep is required for any element of this recipe although the Date Bars can be made well in advance of when they are needed. They’ve been an excellent weekend make to see me through the rest of the week on a number of occasions.
If you have no interest in experimenting or seeing how I developed this recipe, jump down to the recipe card for the succinct version!
The Cocoa Orange Date Bar Experiment
I hope that this post can show how you can also look at a pre-made food and attempt to make a similar version at home, from scratch. Here’s how I did it….
My Ingredient Analysis
My first step was to calculate the quantity of ingredients I would need to make 10 x 35g bars – 350g in total. The ingredients as listed on the Nakd bar I was trying to replicate are 40% dates, 40% cashews, 15% raisins, 4% cocoa and orange flavour.
I assumed the missing 1% was made up of the flavouring and water. I measured the ingredients out per the above list and prepared my mini Kenwood chopper for some hard work.
As I didn’t have a large processor available, my Kenwood mini chopper had to do. As a result I had to grind the ingredients individually. I started with 140g cashews. This was as fine as I was able to grind them without adding some sort of abrasive such as salt. I hoped that this would be sufficient and moved onto the 140g dates and 50g raisins.
My mixer struggled a little with this – the mixture was very stiff and tended to clump above the mixer blades. I had to let down the mixture somehow so I added 1 tsp orange essence and 1 tsp hot water which did help somewhat.
I emptied the mashed dates into 20g Cocoa Powder and the ground cashews then started mixing. Initially I used a spoon but moved onto using my hands as some proper schmushing was required. The mixture was very dry so I added a further 3 tbsp hot water one at a time which gave me the texture I was looking for.
I mushed the mixture into a flattish rectangle using a lined loaf tin to help me get an even shape. I spent a good few minutes on this to try and get the mix equally deep all the way to the ends and edges so that each of my bars could be cut evenly.
I couldn’t see any reason to let the mixture sit or chill before cutting it so I went straight ahead and cut 10 bars with a sharp knife. The slab cut really easily with no tearing or splitting and the texture was very reminiscent of that of the Nakd bars.
I didn’t want the bars to dry out so I wrapped each individually in greaseproof paper and put the batch (minus the one I tried!) into a sealed sandwich bag. I put them in the fridge but there is nothing realistically that needs to be kept chilled so I kept the ones I took to work in my desk drawer with no issues.
Next time I made my Cocoa Orange Date Bars, I added all 4 tsp of hot water to the dates and raisins when they were in the processor to help the chopping. If water is needed, it may as well be added where it is most helpful. Bingo – this was the trick I’d missed the first time around.
I had made an assumption when looking at the Nakd ingredients list that the percentages given related to weight of the ingredients. My calorie calculations (using my recipe card calcs) told me that each of my bars (35g each) contain 136 Kcal which is exactly the same as Nakd’s 136 Kcal.
There are more visible ground nut in my bars although not enough to affect the taste. I do wonder that if I revisited the percentages on a volume rather than weight basis, maybe that would be more true to the original recipe and would reduce the calorie count of each bar.
I will try this at some point in the future and if so, I will also revisit the amount of water I used as any change in quantities of the ground nuts will affect the amount of added moisture needed.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out? Have you experimented with any other recipes? Let me know!
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Chocolate Recipes
Cocoa Orange Date Bars – Nakd Copycat (Vegan & Gluten Free)
- 140 g Cashew Nuts
- 140 g Dates
- 4 tsp Water
- 50 g Seedless Raisins
- 20 g Cocoa Powder (Dutch Processed)
- 1 tsp Orange Extract
- Grind 140g Cashew Nuts until finely chopped in a small food processor. Empty into a mixing bowl.
- Add 140g Dates, 50g Seedless Raisins and 4 tsp Hot Water to the mini processor.
- Grind until fairly smooth. Empty into the same bowl as the ground cashews.
- Add 20g Cocoa Powder and 1 tsp Orange Extract to the cashew/date bowl.
- Fully combine all of the ingredients into one harmonious mush.
- Spread the mix into a lined loaf tin. Make sure to spend some time making the mixture flat and spread evenly.
- Turn the rectangle slab out onto a flat surface and use a sharp knife to cut the slab into 10 thin bars.
- Wrap individually in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container or sealed sandwich bag.