Monday, September 23, 2013

Date-Sweetened Apple Pecan Cookies

One of the pleasant surprises I encountered when we first moved to the California Bay Area was that, although we enjoy gorgeous weather year-round, there are also still distinct changes in the seasons. They are different than the usual four season changes that I was used to (we seem to skip winter altogether and just go from fall to spring), but they are definitely there. Fall is particularly beautiful, with the days starting to cool off just enough, the trees turning beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, and the pine cones and acorns which start to fall from the trees and line the sidewalks. I tell you this, of course, because all of these signs of fall make me start to think of fall recipes and all the things that can be created with cinnamon, nuts, apples, apricots, pumpkins, zucchini, etc., etc., etc.

These cookies were born from recent musings on fall baking as I was out enjoying the cool fall air on a walk with my daughter. I wanted to find a way to use dates as the primary sweetener in a cookie. Building on a recipe I found at Anja's Food 4 Thought, my first attempt, I have to admit, came out not quite sweet enough for my taste. I decided to add in just a bit of honey to boost the sweetness, along with a very light coating of cinnamon and powdered sugar so that it still felt like a cookie rather than a very small biscuit. These apple-pecan cookies were the result. They are a mildly sweet, cinnamony cookie, with hints of the apple and pecan coming through. The texture is somewhere between a shortbread and biscuit if you eat them the same day, but if you have the will power to let them sit until the next day (something I, my husband, and my preschooler struggle with!) they become more of a shortbread, allowing the crunchy pecan texture to come through even more.

Date-Sweetend Apple Pecan Cookies
Makes 15-20 cookies
PREP: 20 minutes    CHILL: at least 60 minutes       COOK: 12-15 minutes            READY IN: 1 hour 40 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
pic name       pic name      pic name


  • 1/2 cup dates (10-12 dates), roughly chopped and soaked in water for about 20 minutes
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecan pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup diced dried apple pieces (or dried apricots)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon


  1. Drain most of the water off of the dates (they should be somewhat soft). In a food processor, pulse the soaked dates with the butter to a smooth consistency.
  2. Add the pecan pieces, and pulse about 30 seconds to break down the pecans into fine pieces.
  3. In a bowl, combine the dates, butter, and pecans with the vanilla, honey, cinnamon, egg, and flour. The dough may be sticky, but should hold together and not be at all runny. Mix in the dried fruit pieces.
  4. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
  5. With the chilled dough, form balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (they won't grow so they can be placed fairly close together).
  6. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies no longer look shiny on top. Remove and let cool just a couple of minutes. Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon, and roll warm cookies in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until lightly covered.


    1 cookie    84 calories   4 g fat   11.3 g carbs    1.5 g protein    5.3 g sugar   
If you're willing to splurge a little more with the butter, these could even be transformed to be more like a riff on Mexican wedding cookies. Because I was trying to keep these still within the mostly-healthy realm, I decided to save that experimentation for another day.
Happy Autumn!


Kylie @ immaeatthat said...

These look amazing!

Cambria said...

Thanks Kylie! I hope you like them!


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