Better Than Chocolate LarabarsMany women of my generation were raised to downplay their achievements. It was considered gauche to toot your own horn. Indeed, quite the opposite: minimizing your accomplishments was somehow admirable, girlish, feminine, which is perhaps why I always notice when my good friend Deanna, a jeweler designer who’s undeniably feminine, admires her own wares and notes how very lovely they are. And they are.

She never comes off as full of herself, simply confident and proud of her work.

Last week, after a third attempt at knocking off Larabars to quench my afternoon chocolate fix in our “10 Days of Real Food” household (where we are eschewing sugar and processed foods), I finally nailed it. I was pleased. And I thought about Deanna …and so got my nerve up to tell you this:


Really good. Better than Larabars. Cheaper than Larabars. Easy to make. Nourishing. Portable. Chocolatey. Satisfying. Sugar-Free. Gluten-Free. Pretty to look at. Will solve global warming.

Chocolate Coconut Walnut Copycat Bars

I got so excited, I had to indulge my inner Martha Stewart whereby I couldn’t stop with the parchment and twine:

Yes, we’re raising children in a day and age when our every good deed is tweeted or instagrammed , yet our cultural values around modesty remain. What most women — moms especially — do in a single day ┬ábears trumpeting, not minimizing. I don’t want to raise my daughters to be boastful, but I sure do want them to own it when they’ve done something wonderful… and not be shy about sharing it with the world.

Chocolate Coconut Copycat Bars

Yield: 24 bars

Chocolate Coconut Copycat Bars

This is a simple, wholesome bar that requires no cooking and is all made in the food processor. Feel free to experiment with other nuts. You can add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds for an added nutrient boost.


  • 1 cup water
  • 18 pitted medjool dates
  • 2/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper so the paper drapes over two sides.
  2. Boil the water. Put the dates in a shallow bowl and pour boiled water over them. Soak for 5 minutes, drain the water and discard. Put the soaked dates in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  3. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the shredded coconut for topping the bars. Add the remaining coconut, walnuts, almonds, cocoa powder, and salt to the dates in the food processor. Run the processor until the nuts are ground into tiny bits and a sticky dough forms, pulsing as needed.
  4. Dump the dough onto the parchment-lined pan and use your fingers to press it down firmly and evenly, filling out the pan. If it's too sticky, lay parchment under your fingers as you press. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of coconut over the top.
  5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes until firm. Use the two draping sides of parchment to lift the bars out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Use a large knife to cut into 24 bars.
  6. Store at room temperature or in the fridge in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
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  1. 01.14.2013 at 5:32 AM #

    I can’t wait to try these! I have been making something similar but with just almonds, no walnuts…and in ball, not bar, form. My 4-year-old and I love the Clif Kit’s Organic chocolate coconut bars but they are almost $2 a pop.

    • katiemorford
      01.14.2013 at 7:26 AM #

      Hi Stacy…I know, those bars can be pricey. Larabars are about $2 each as well. These can also be made in ball form and then rolled in coconut.

  2. Pamela
    01.14.2013 at 7:42 AM #

    yummy~~~i will get the dates, nuts & coconut today. I really like the wrapping too!

  3. yunah
    01.14.2013 at 8:06 AM #

    these look yummy- i’ve been resigned to larabars as a regular expense item. i’ll be making these this weekend – thanks katie!

    • katiemorford
      01.14.2013 at 8:09 AM #

      They take 10 minutes, tops, to make (and that includes soaking the dates for 5 minutes).

  4. Pam H
    01.14.2013 at 8:30 AM #

    Great Job, Katie!!

    • katiemorford
      01.14.2013 at 8:42 AM #

      Thanks Pam!

  5. Monica
    01.14.2013 at 9:47 AM #

    Last night I had a dream where I was going through an obstacle course made entirely of desserts! So I think the Real Food challenge has made it into my psyche and I also think I need to make these Lara Bars. You are amazing and the parchment and twine are too cute!

    • katiemorford
      01.14.2013 at 11:06 AM #

      Too funny. Not sure the bars can measure up to a maze of desserts…

  6. Mary
    01.14.2013 at 4:42 PM #

    Katie, these look delicious! I’d like to try them but don’t own a food processor. I’ve somehow managed to get by all these years with a mixer and blender. Would either of these tools work in substitution? Or do you have any other handy methods to get the same outcome?

    • katiemorford
      01.14.2013 at 4:54 PM #

      Hi Mary…hmmmm. The food processor whips the dates into a texture that’s practically a puree. That serves as the sweetener and the glue that holds it all together. I’m not sure a blender will do that, but you could certainly try. Alternatively, you could attempt to mash the softened dates with a mortar and pestle. Separately, finely chop the nuts with a knife. Then, combine the dates, nuts, and remaining ingredients in a bowl. Let me know if you give a try. I’m curious.

  7. Pam
    01.14.2013 at 7:12 PM #

    Delicious! Now I just have to make a batch on my own…

  8. Nicole
    01.19.2013 at 4:36 PM #

    I’ve been searching for copycat recipes for these bars and I’m really excited to try it! I’m just a little confused about the dates because I’ve never used them before. Are they dried dates that are soaked in water?

    • katiemorford
      01.19.2013 at 4:43 PM #

      Yes, they are dried medjool dates. You split them open to remove the pit. Then, you soak them in hot water so they soften enough to be blended.

  9. 01.20.2013 at 3:09 PM #

    I made these this afternoon and they are wonderful! I’ve never had a larabar so can’t compare. And as you said, very quick to mix up. I did not soak the dates as I had fresh medjools direct from CA and they were very moist – so just pitted and threw in the food processor with everything else.

    I just toasted some hazelnuts for biscotti and I was tempted to sub the hazelnuts for the walnuts…maybe next time.

    • katiemorford
      01.20.2013 at 5:23 PM #

      Toasted hazelnuts with the cocoa sounds delicious. I’m going to try that next time around.

  10. Sue
    01.28.2013 at 6:37 AM #

    For Mary who doesn’t have a food processor – maybe you could substitute prune puree that comes in a jar in the baking section?

    • katiemorford
      01.28.2013 at 8:35 AM #

      Thanks for the tip, Sue. It may not be sticky enough, but may be worth experimenting with.

  11. Jennifer
    02.25.2013 at 7:43 PM #

    This recipe looks great! Do you think it would also work with toasted or lightly roasted nuts for someone who is allergic to raw nuts?

    • katiemorford
      02.25.2013 at 11:18 PM #

      Absolutely. In fact, toasting the nuts will make it even more flavorful.

  12. Rich
    03.01.2013 at 5:06 AM #

    How long do you think you can store these? Perhaps that will not be an issue because they will go pretty fast but still wondering.

    • katiemorford
      03.01.2013 at 7:40 AM #

      They taste best, I think, if you eat them within a week or so.

  13. Emily
    03.03.2013 at 8:01 PM #

    These look great, but about what weight or volume of dates is it? I have pre-chopped dates because they’re cheaper than whole. Thank you!

    • katiemorford
      03.04.2013 at 12:46 AM #

      Good question.I’ll have to get back to you on that one!

    • katiemorford
      03.04.2013 at 8:19 PM #

      I planned to test this myself today, but the market had no Medjool dates. So, I did a search and found a story about dates on NPR, a reliable source. According to their recipe, 1 cup of pitted, chopped dates equals 10 to 12 whole Medjools. Hope that helps. Let me know how it goes! FYI: here is the link:

      • Emily
        03.08.2013 at 10:13 AM #

        Thanks! I actually found some pitted dates, and 18 was 130 grams, so next time I’ll just measure the chopped ones by weight. These are pretty good so there will be a next time ­čÖé

  14. Sarah
    03.10.2013 at 4:18 PM #

    These were excellent! I used dates that were already soft so I didn’t soak them. Everyone loved them! I will definitely make these again.

    • katiemorford
      03.10.2013 at 9:23 PM #

      So glad you like them. I agree, soft dates don’t usually need to be soaked.

  15. Karen Varnhagen
    03.18.2013 at 9:01 AM #

    Fantastic. Fast, easy delicious. Great for those if us who have a sweet tooth. You’re the best Katie!

    • katiemorford
      03.18.2013 at 10:38 AM #

      Great to hear from you Karen! Glad you like the bars.

  16. Caroline
    04.18.2013 at 5:47 PM #

    These came out perfectly!
    One tip: don’t toss the soaking water! I tasted it, and it is delicious. I am now drinking a steaming cup of date-juice water, with cocoa powder. Delicious!

    • katiemorford
      04.18.2013 at 6:46 PM #

      Thanks for the tip…wouldn’t have thought of that!

  17. alice
    10.09.2013 at 2:13 PM #

    Wow! These were amazing! I love Larabars, but these were even better. I didn’t soak the dates- just poured a little water in with everything to make sure they were sticky enough and that worked fine.

    • katiemorford
      10.09.2013 at 9:38 PM #

      Great…and thanks for the tip re: adding water instead of soaking. Whatever works!

  18. Erin
    11.03.2013 at 11:38 AM #

    OMG!! Made these AGAIN for the tenth time!! They are sooooo yummy! I used hazelnuts, walnuts and brazil nuts…and cocoa nibs! These won’t last long! ­čśë

  19. 01.01.2014 at 8:04 AM #

    This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have foud something that hedlped me.

    Thank you!

  20. ashly
    08.19.2014 at 7:17 AM #

    I made this recipe for the first time. Amazing. I used dark chocolate cocoa. OHHHHHH so good. I did have a little trouble with it being sticky. I think I didn’t count enough dates out but the taste was unbelievable.

    • katiemorford
      08.20.2014 at 7:01 AM #

      Thanks Ashly. So glad you like this. Yes, it can be sticky. I sometimes lay a piece of parchment or wax paper down when I’m working with sticky doughs, especially when pressing it into the pan. That may help. Thanks for the comment.

  21. Michelle
    01.29.2015 at 11:16 AM #

    These are really good! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  22. Catherine
    04.19.2015 at 2:20 PM #

    These are SO GOOD!! absolutely better than the store-bought variety. This seems like a dumb question, but how did you cut the batch to get 24 bars? 4×6 works, math-wise, but they seem a lot smaller and not the same shape as the ones pictured. Any advice? Also, do you by any chance have nutritional facts for this recipe? Thanks, again, for sharing this amazing recipe!

    • katiemorford
      04.20.2015 at 12:37 PM #

      So glad you liked them. To be honest, you can cut them any size you like. I make them pretty small for kids. I may have sized the ones in the photo a little differently than in the recipe. I don’t have the nutrition facts for this, but Self has a free tool to analyze recipes. You can find it here:

      • Catherine
        04.20.2015 at 6:18 PM #

        Thanks for the fast response and helpful answers!

  23. Katherine
    10.15.2015 at 12:16 PM #

    I’m so excited to try theses!! Chocolate and coconut with the dates and nuts just tastes so crazy good.

    • katiemorford
      10.15.2015 at 12:46 PM #

      My kids are big fans, too!

  24. suzi
    01.11.2016 at 9:11 PM #

    These are delicious and while on Whole30, I really needed something!! Mine didn’t stick together very well, however. Perhaps my medjool dates were different? I soaked and drained them, everything else was identical, except perhaps my coconut was finely shredded unsweetened. I may add a little more dates next time, or perhaps I should add some almond butter or coconut oil? They were sticky but still a little “mealy” for lack of better word. My walnuts were toasted. Almonds were raw whole.

    • katiemorford
      01.12.2016 at 8:32 AM #

      Hi Suzi

      That’s a little bit of a mystery since it sounds like you did everything a-okay. One thought is that medjool dates can be so variable in size and juiciness. Maybe try adding another one or two next time and see if that makes a difference. A little almond butter in a pinch might do the trick too. Thanks for the comment. Feedback is helpful! And congrats on doing Whole30. That’s not easy. x, Katie

  25. Judith Ruffino
    01.29.2016 at 10:18 AM #

    Do the dried fruits still have sulfites? Sulfites usually give me headaches so have shied away from them.

    • katiemorford
      01.30.2016 at 2:44 PM #

      Hi Judith, It is my understand that foods containing detectable amounts of added sulfites must be labeled accordingly, so I would recommend having a look at the label for your dates before you buy them. You might have the best luck buying organic medjool dates.


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