Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
8 ounces chopped pitted dates, (1½ cups)
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
⅓ cup water
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup apple butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped and toasted (see Tip)
To make filling: Combine dates, brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
To make dough: Place rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat 3 baking sheets with cooking spray; set aside.
Combine brown sugar, egg, egg whites, oil, apple butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale in color, about 2 minutes.
Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and baking powder into the mixing bowl. Add rolled oats and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies about 1½ inches apart. With the back of a teaspoon, dipped in water to prevent sticking, make a depression in the center of each mound. Fill with a scant teaspoon of the reserved date filling. Top with another heaping teaspoon of dough, spreading it to roughly cover the filling. Sprinkle each cookie with a scant ¼ teaspoon pecans (or walnuts). Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until lightly browned on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool.
Make Ahead Tip: Freeze in an airtight container.
Tip: To toast chopped nuts: Place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Storage smarts: For long-term freezer storage, wrap your food in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. The plastic will help prevent freezer burn while the foil will help keep off-odors from seeping into the food.