Every family has those recipes that have just “always” been a part of the holidays. The kind of food that you bite into and, when you close your eyes, you are transported to times past. There’s something magical about foods familiar from your childhood, especially those that were made during the holiday season. For my family, these Date Nut Swirl Cookies are one of those recipes.
My Mom has been making these cookies for as long as I can remember. Maybe even since before I was born. These cookies are a nostalgic fixture in my brain. They also happen to be one of my favorites. The BEST part is that when I make them, they taste just like my Mom’s. I can’t say that about all her recipes (I’m lookin’ at you, spaghetti…).
Even if you’re not a date person, hear me out. These Date Nut Swirl Cookies have a buttery brown sugar cookie dough filled with sweetened, cooked dates and chopped pecans. These cookies are crisp, tender, crunchy, and gooey all in one bite. You neeeeed to try these.
The recipe makes a ton of cookies (six dozen!). The dough gets split in two portions before you fill them and roll them up. If you prefer, you could freeze one of the dough logs and bake it up later. 🙂
I like to use silpats when baking these cookies. The cookies never ever stick (and dates are really sticky!!), and I can use the silpats over and over again (as opposed to parchment, which goes in the trash). If you’d like to get yourself some, you can find them [here].
I use medjool dates, which are usually available at my local grocery store, especially around the holidays. You can use whatever type of date you prefer. I use as many local and organic ingredients that I can, so I purchased organic dates online [here].
Please, please make these cookies. Your hard work in waiting for dough to chill (multiple times) and taking the time to slice 6 dozen cookies will be rewarded with…well…6 dozen cookies. Cookies with amazing flavor and texture. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have discovered a new “family recipe.”
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Date Nut Swirl Cookies
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups chopped dates (see note)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two pieces. Flatten each into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator.
- While the dough is chilling, prepare the date/nut filling. Combine dates, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens (10-15 minutes). Allow mixture to cool completely, then stir in pecans.
- Working with one portion of the dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a 12" x 9" rectangle. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
- After the dough has chilled, remove the top piece of waxed paper and spread half the date/nut filling over the first rectangle of dough. Starting from the long edge, roll the dough up tightly using the bottom waxed paper to help you roll. Repeat with the second dough rectangle.
- Wrap both dough logs in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about two hours.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats (see note) and set aside.
- After dough has chilled, unwrap the first dough log and cut into 1/3" slices (I find a thin, serrated knife is good for this job). Place cookies at least 1" apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cookies will appear puffed and slightly browned at the edges.
- Allow cookies to cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second log of dough (or freeze it to bake up later!).Enjoy!