Date Nut Cupcakes with Butterscotch Chip Frosting

by jenna on March 5, 2012

I hope you guys are just as excited about these cupcakes as I am!

I’ve only been waiting since last Thursday to post them (someone wanted quinoa instead…I won’t name names). If you’re already questioning “date nut”, it’s totally understandable. You’re probably wondering why you would make date nut cupcakes when you could, say, make buttermilk chocolate and everyone wins. I get it. I really do. And to be totally honest with you, these cupcakes are weird. I wasn’t so sure what to think, especially since it’s my great-grandma’s recipe and is probably circa 1944. You want to know what else was circa 1944? Tomato aspic. And we all know how that turned out.

Remember rum raisin ice cream? These cupcakes are like that. They taste retro but in a good way. Sort of like banana bread minus the bananas…if that makes any sense at all.


We’ll get to that in a second.

First, the dates! Don’t try to get all fancy with organic medjool. Think like a great grandma. What would she buy?


Retro, but in a good way.

Now let’s talk about the frosting….because, well, I liked the cupcakes a lot (I like weird things) but I LOVED LOVED LOVED (!!) this frosting. It might be my new go-to frosting for everything, that’s how much I loved it. And it was so easy to make! You just need a bag of butterscotch chips….

You melt down the chips then let it cool and pour the melted butterscotch into creamed butter and powdered sugar. That’s it. It makes the most deliciously fluffy, light, butterscotch-caramely frosting ever.

Trust me, you want to make this frosting. If nothing else, just to lick off the whisk of your KitchenAid attachment.

The frosting is the perfect thing to spruce up these date nut cupcakes. I loved the flavor of the butterscotch with the dates…it really was the perfect match! I love imaging my great-grandma serving these cupcakes to my grandma and her siblings when they were kids.

The original recipe calls for a half cup of shortening, which is what I used. If you’d rather use good old fashioned butter instead though, I’m sure that would work just fine. I’m certain the reason great-grandma used shortening here was because butter was in short supply at the time.

She would much rather save the butter to make this delicious butterscotch chip frosting…I get it.

If “date nut” isn’t your thing and you know it, try this frosting with homemade funfetti cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes, oatmeal creme pies or banana bread cupcakes (my personal fav). I have a personal hunch it would also go great with homemade Lofthouse cookies…you know, those big, soft sugar cookies you used to stuff yourself on from WalMart?

Yum…..happy Monday, folks!

Date Nut Cupcakes with Butterscotch Chip Frosting

makes about 16 cupcakes

Print this recipe!


for cupcakes—

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup boiling water

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

for frosting—

1 11-oz package butterscotch chips

2 sticks butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the boiling water over the dates and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chopped walnuts in a bowl.

In another bowl, cream together the vegetable shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition, and the vanilla. Continue beating until everything is well combined.

Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the date/boiling water mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Do not over-mix here.

Fill greased cupcake tins about 3/4th of the way full with cupcake batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and springy. Let cool completely while you make the frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butterscotch chips in a large, microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring well after each time until all the chips are melted. It should take about a minute and a half total. Stir melted butterscotch chips well and set aside to cool. (make sure you really let the butterscotch cool or else it will melt the butter and you’ll have pools of melted butter and butterscotch instead of the fluffy frosting you desire!)

Cream the butter until light. Add the cooled butterscotch and the powdered sugar and continue beating until thick and fluffy.

Place frosting in a large plastic bag fitted with a pastry tip (optional but fun!) or just use a butter knife to spread on cooled cupcakes.



1.25 hours

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Em (Wine and Butter) March 5, 2012 at 3:27 am

I like the frosting to cupcake ratio you have going on!

I also really love dates and I have the giant ones stuffed with walnuts and cinammon the whole time for breakfast. I bet these are amazing and would especially good with cinnamon sprinkled on top!


Vanessa @ Project Zen March 5, 2012 at 3:56 am

A butter knife to frost them is the retro way my grandmother put frosting on too – but they never came out as nice as I liked. Sounds sweet!


Sara @my less serious life March 5, 2012 at 4:17 am

i think i would die for these. i am on a total date kick right now. these are perfect. now i just need an occasion to make them. or do i?


Erika - The Teenage Taste March 5, 2012 at 4:19 am

Yayyyyyy cupcakes! πŸ˜€
I have dates and walnuts on hand right now, sooooo…I think I’ll be making these soon. Plus since these cupcakes are made with dates and walnuts they’re practically health food, right? πŸ˜‰


Jen March 5, 2012 at 4:29 am

Love the first pic! Great job for continuing the Grandma project.


jenna March 5, 2012 at 4:31 am

yum! i love dates and going to bed early to read, so grandgma-ish! whoa…butterscotch frosing??? YUM. looks like heaven.


Molly @ RDexposed March 5, 2012 at 4:35 am

These are looking a little muffin-like. Agree or deny?
Agreeing makes this free game for brunch.


jenna March 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm

A muffin is just a cupcake without a frosting hat. (words to live by)


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 5, 2012 at 4:50 am

Oh wowwww, what a great way to start off the week! I have a feeling that this frosting is kind of the sweeter equivalent of Mama Pea’s Mmm Sauce…. delicious on pretty much anything! :)


Annie (What's Annie Making?) March 5, 2012 at 4:55 am

These look ah-ma-zing!!!! I love anything butterscotch. I’m actually looking for a good frosting recipe for a wedding cake recipe, I will definitely give this a shot.


Angela @ Happy Fit Mama March 5, 2012 at 4:56 am

Dates and butterscotch chips for the win! This has Grandma love written all over it. :)


Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau March 5, 2012 at 4:56 am

I love date nut bread so these cupcakes look so splendidly homey. With butterscotch chips as the base of the frosting, I can only imagine how good that frosting is!


Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free March 5, 2012 at 5:13 am

Wow those sound awesome! And that frosting….no words.


The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh March 5, 2012 at 5:18 am

You had me sold at the pile of frosting!


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes March 5, 2012 at 5:39 am

love! Haha they look great :)


Cookbook Queen March 5, 2012 at 6:03 am

I’m going to DREAM about that frosting. Sweet, lovely dreams.

Also, you know how you said about Lofthouse cookies: remember those soft cookies you USED to stuff yourself with?
Well…I still sort of do that. Because I’m a fake grown up, apparently.

Can’t wait to spread this frosting over everything in sight!!


HRCK the Herald March 5, 2012 at 6:04 am

I LOVE how you pile on the frosting like that!! It looks like it’s two inches high :)

I find butterscotch to be an underrated flavor, so I’m happy you’re giving it a lot of love here.


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen March 5, 2012 at 6:25 am

I’m obsessed with that frosting and I haven’t even tasted it. The pictures are enough to want to lick it off the screen! I’m also weird and think the combination of dates & nuts sounds really delicious in cupcake form. I prefer that kind of stuff over funfetti any day.


amy walters, aDESIGNdock March 5, 2012 at 6:36 am

Oh Jenna. I think you’ve hit this one out of the ballpark! These look so pretty; and, I bet these really do taste amazingly retro and delicious! I just can’t get enough your sweet great-grandmother’s recipes. Keep’ em coming!


Margarita March 5, 2012 at 6:40 am

I’m not a big frosting fan but my boyfriend is. Frosting on everything! So, this is definitely one I should try. Dates and nuts in a cupcake sound good to me!


Maria March 5, 2012 at 6:52 am

That frosting is calling my name!


Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles March 5, 2012 at 6:57 am

I love dates! And cupcakes! Talk about a win win!


Heather (Heather's Dish) March 5, 2012 at 6:58 am

i just love that the frosting is as tall as the cupcakes!


Erin March 5, 2012 at 7:07 am

That frosting does sound stupendous. Why must I be at work instead of at home baking???


Lauren March 5, 2012 at 7:08 am

And, I die.


Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) March 5, 2012 at 7:10 am

I think these sound delicious. I def. wanted the cupcake recipe on Friday…haha


Lori @ RecipeGirl March 5, 2012 at 7:29 am

I am loving this combo! I made a pumpkin pie with a butterscotch whipped cream once… you mixed butterscotch syrup right into the whipped cream- SO good!! Will have to try it with the chips in frosting!


jenna March 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm

omg..that butterscotch whipped cream sounds amazing. Like pudding on steroids–I’m going to try it!


Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat March 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

Yum I love how you piled the frosting on these puppies! Dates are awesome!


Urban Wife March 5, 2012 at 7:54 am

That’s what I’m talking about – sky high frosting!!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga March 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

Jenna, everything about these looks and sounds sooo good! I love dates and I bet they are fabulous in these but that frosting. I want to make that…just to have on hand. For any possible bad days. That would make the world right again, I can just tell :)


Jessica J March 5, 2012 at 8:08 am

So creative! I think my husband would love these, he loves unique cake flavors. And that frosting looks to-die-for!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape March 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

Definitely not questioning date nut anything! This looks amazing!!


Cassie March 5, 2012 at 8:14 am

i LOVE butterscotch chips. can’t wait to try this.


Melissa March 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

Looks amazing! I think sandwiching this frosting between oatmeal cookies like a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie (butterscotch-style) sounds yummy, too.
Thanks so much for sharing!


Laurel March 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

Dates are surprisingly sweet…. and it’s okay to break away from the chocolate every once and a while! πŸ˜‰


elizabeth @ chronic venture March 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

yummmmm everything about these is just perfect!!


Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray March 5, 2012 at 9:03 am

I am LOVING the ratio of frosting to cake here. Spot on. πŸ˜‰


Moni'sMeals March 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

These seem like the best cupcakes around! So creative and one of a kind flavor I am sure. Can I pppppplease have one right this second!?


Ali @ Around the VeggieTable March 5, 2012 at 9:22 am

OMG I love butterscotch! I had this idea that I will just make this frosting, keep it in my fridge, and eat it by the spoonful whenever a snack attack hits :) Wonder how long it will last in the fridge…any idea? Sounds amazing!


jenna March 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hmmmm….good question. I would actually keep it at room temperature (covered) for only about a day, or overnight, and then when you use re-whip so it gets all fluffy again! Because of the pretty hefty amount of melted butterscotch in it, the frosting gets a little hard after awhile so be sure to re-whip. I wouldn’t refrigerate these cupcakes because of that.


Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy March 5, 2012 at 10:30 am

Love the big mountain of frosting in the first picture! These sound delicious!


Cait's Plate March 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

I love the almost muffin-like texture these seem to have! Looks like an awesome recipe and I’m definitely bookmarking it for later!


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic March 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

I love dates, I love nuts, and I love butterscotch so…. yep I’m making these!


Marisa March 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

These sound kind of like Sticky Toffee Pudding in cupcake form! Yum! The first time I made STP I was kind of weirded out by the dates – and then I tasted it. Oh my goodness – delectable.

I will most definitely be making this cupcake recipe – thank you!


jenna March 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I’ve never made/eaten sticky toffee pudding but now I am intrigued…hmmm


Justeen @ Blissful Baking March 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

I actually love dates and nuts – these cupcakes are totally calling my name!


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) March 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

You’ve totally sold me on the frosting. Can I just made the frosting to have on its own? πŸ˜‰


jenna March 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

There’s nothing wrong with a frosting shot here and there!


Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts March 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

My husband would die for this frosting! He loves all things butterscotch, can’t wait to try it!


Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe March 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I’m a big fan of quinoa, but I have to say, I would have chosen these amazing cupcakes if given the choice. And that frosting? I could just dive right in.


Jacqueline@digintobooks March 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I need a little mountain of frosting like that in my life right now! Those cupcakes look divine!!!


Deanna B. March 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I love dates! And butterscotch. I don’t see how these could be anything less than awesome.


Brittany @ Brittany Cooks March 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Those. Look. Incredible.


Laura @ She Eats Well March 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I am a BIG fan of butterscotch. I think it adds so much great flavor. One of my favorite recipes on my blog is my rice krispies with a chocolate-butterscotch frosting. I love dates too so I cannot wait to make these cupcakes!


Carissa @ ChoiceSustenance March 6, 2012 at 7:37 am

So this has me pondering what other chips could be used for icing…cinnamon? chocolate mint? This has a lot of potential! I love icing.


Caroline March 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

Oh these look SO delicious! Gonna have to try them out this weekend.. :) hope you’re having a great week!


Rachel March 6, 2012 at 8:32 am

I have your grandma’s palate: dates and butterscotch are some of my favorites! These will definitely get made. Thanks for the great recipe!


Rachel March 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

*Great-Grandma. Oops.


Cupcake and Talk March 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

I love what you did with this cupcake. I also love butterscotch and dates. It has been a while since I had dates. I don’t know why I love them. Thank you.


Aylin @ Glow Kitchen March 6, 2012 at 10:25 am

I’ll devour anything with butterscotch. These look so delicious! I’d probably lick the frosting off before I get to the cake though, just sayin’


Kristin @ FoodFash March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I’m typically not a huge frosting lover unless the frosting looks like yours, then I’m 110% down with eating every last bit.


Tara@Sugar Spice and Bacon March 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Loving the cupcake/frosting combo! But REALLY loving that china!!! Is that great grandma’s too??? :)


Krissy's Creations March 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I’m literally drooling over that frosting. Drooling. I could only imagine! Wonderful recipe combination!


Nicole @ Giraffelegs March 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Yum! I feel like a lot of people think butterscotch is for “old” people but honestly it’s one of my favorite flavors.


amanda March 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I made these yesterday. They are dangerous. Like other people commented, I am trying to tell myself the dates and nuts make them semi-nutritious…

You have to make these if you haven’t already. I have never had a cupcake like this before.

I substituted butter for shortening and they turned out great. I also did an extra rough chop to the already packaged chopped dates as I was unsure how I would like the dates. so good.

I did make the mistake of refrigerating the frosting. oops. It got hard. I mean really hard. I am leaving it on the counter for a while and re-whipping.
Thanks so much for sharing this.


April March 13, 2012 at 7:30 am

Where are you?


Devin December 10, 2014 at 8:21 am

Hi Jenna, Great recipe, thanks. Am wondering how many cup cakes/mini cup cakes this recipe makes? Please advise….thanks!


fara December 28, 2014 at 8:51 am

Doesn’t it taste too sweet? Or it just taste nice? :) is it suitable for vanila cake frosting?


EVERYBODYLOVECHOCOLATES April 13, 2015 at 12:27 am



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