Love those vegan and gluten free Cocoa Orange Date Bars from the supermarket but want to make a Nakd Copycat version at home? I’ve worked out the recipe for you! Read my a post to find out not only how to make these healthy and super tasty snacks but also how I went about working out the recipe. Experimenting is fun!
I’m (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 but I’ve never got ‘healthy snacking’ down. Naturally for a snack I’d like to go for one of my Scotch Eggs or maybe some Eggy Bread!
I had a brief foray a year or two ago when I discovered that I could manage some raw carrot sticks and hummus (also vegan) and I can eat the occasional fun-size banana (don’t ask) but the whole ‘handful of almonds’ or ‘stick of celery and tablespoon of unsweetened peanut butter’ shtick – yak! Peanut butter is best found in cheesecake!
I have however recently 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. My particular favourite is the Cocoa Orange Nakd* variety but their RRP is £2.75 for a pack of 4 (69p each). They’re 135 calories per bar which isn’t too bad when calorie counting (a banana is 90-120kcal depending on size) and I do actually feel like I’ve had a snack when finished, even though they’re only small.
Just in case you are concerned, I am not advocating any kind of sugar, gluten or dairy free or otherwise ‘clean’ diet – I just happen to like these bars and they just happen to have no added sugar or gluten in them. I guess they’re vegan too aren’t they! I will continue to eat them with a builders brew with 2 sugars and cows milk. And a slice of ham.
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’m naturally inclined to experiment with food and I’d always encourage others to too. There are obviously endless possibilities of flavour combinations to be tried here. Various other nuts could be substituted – pecans, walnuts or the ubiquitous almond and other dried fruits could be added/substituted – I have bought a bag of dried figs to try for example and a friend recently experimented with dried apricots.
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. Maybe it would be good to start with one of the other Nakd flavours such as Nakd Cashew Cookie* or Nakd Berry Delight* and build up confidence from there before moving on to something else. I used a similar experimentation method to develop my Peach Lemonade and the more complicated Sausage, Nut and Chutney Wreath recipes.
Overall I’m super pleased with how my 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 I they work out cheaper to make for fairly little effort. I’ve calculated the ingredient costs as follows (updated Oct 2018 and based on Sainsbury’s products only. Aldi/Lidl will likely be even cheaper):
|Ingredient||Unit Size||Unit Cost||Portion Size||Portion Cost|
The total cost for 10 bars is £3.02 and so my bars cost just 30p each to make. That’s a saving of 39p each – less than half price!
If you have no interest in experimenting or seeing how I developed this recipe, scroll down for the succinct version!
Makes 10 – 148 kcal each
140g Cashew Nuts
50g Seedless Raisins
20g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Orange Essence
4 tsp Hot Water
The Experiment and Method:
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 don’t have a large processor, the Kenwood mini would have 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 so 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 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 and started mixing, initially with a spoon but latterly with my hands – some proper schmushing was required.
The mixture was very dry so I added a further 3tbsp Hot Water 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 thick all the way to the ends and edges so 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 have put them in the fridge but there is nothing realistically that needs to be kept chilled so I will be moving them to my desk drawer next week (if they last that long).
Next time I make these, I will be adding all 4 tsp of hot water to the dates and raisins when they are in the processor to help the chopping – if its needed, it may as well be added where it is most helpful.
I 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 Fitness Pal) tell me that each of my bars (35g each) contain 148 Kcal compared to Nakd’s 136 Kcal. There does seem to be a lot of ground nut in these bars – not enough to affect the taste but 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 I think less with be needed to counteract the dryness of the ground cashews.
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 and grind until fairly smooth. Empty into the same bowl as the ground cashews.
Add 20g Cocoa Powder and 1 tsp Orange Essence to the cashew/date bowl.
Use your hands to fully combine all of the ingredients into one harmonious mush.
Use your hands again to spread the mix into a lined loaf tine. 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.
Let me know if you give these a try – are they as good as the Original Nakd Cocoa Orange Bars?
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