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.
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 a gooey date filling and chopped pecans. These cookies are crisp, tender, crunchy, and gooey all in one bite. You neeeeed to try these!
Making the Date Filling
You want to start this recipe with the filling, so it has time to cool while you’re making the cookie dough. I don’t suggest making the filling in advance, since it will get quite firm in the refrigerator and you won’t be able to spread it over your cookie dough!
I used 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.
The recipe specifies to add the chopped pecans after the date filling is done cooking. This is so that the pecans stay as crunchy as possible.
Making the Brown Sugar Cookie Dough
The brown sugar cookie dough comes together easily! I just love the brown sugar with the dates–they complement each other so well.
I use non-stick parchment to roll my cookie dough between. It doesn’t crinkle up and get your cookies all weird and the dough doesn’t stick, so I’m a big fan. If you’re looking to get some, you can find it here.
I like to use silpats to line my baking sheets for these cookies. The cookies never ever stick (and dates are really sticky!!), and I can use the silpats over and over again. If you’d like to get yourself some, you can find them here.
Making Date Nut Swirl Cookies Ahead
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.
The baked cookies also freeze beautifully! Just separate layers of cookies with parchment or waxed paper so that they don’t stick together. They’ll keep in the freezer for months!
Please, please make these cookies. Your hard work in waiting for dough to chill and taking the time to slice 6 dozen cookies will be rewarded with…well…6 dozen super delicious cookies. You may even find that you’ve discovered a new “family recipe.” <3
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Date Nut Swirl Cookies
- 1 ¼ cups chopped dates (see note)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 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. Prepare cookie dough while filling cools.
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt). 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, forming each into a small rectangle.
- Working with one portion of the dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper (see note) into a 12" x 9" rectangle.
- Remove the top piece of 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 piece of paper to help you roll. Repeat with the second dough rectangle.
- Wrap both dough logs and refrigerate until firm, about two hours. (You can also leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next day, or freeze the dough to thaw and bake later.)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. 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.Enjoy!