Complexion candy, a date, fig and pecan confection

Complexion candy | Homesick Texan

The other day I found myself in a cookie coma. After eating nothing but cookies and homemade candy for several hours straight, my belly hurt and I could barely keep my eyes open. It was a sugar, butter and white flour overload.

Now, I’m not one to pass up a sweet treat, especially this time of year. But sometimes it might be wise for me to cut back just a little so I won’t find myself shopping for a whole new wardrobe in the new year.

Enter complexion candy. “What kind of candy?” you may be asking. I said the same thing when I came across this old Texan recipe. Though upon closer inspection I realized that complexion candy is simply an old-fashioned dried fruit and nut confection under a more colorful name.

Complexion candy | Homesick Texan

I love dates. They’re sticky, crunchy and sweet with such a rich caramelized flavor that it’s hard to believe that they’re a fruit. Yep, dates are nature’s candy. And that’s what’s at the heart of complexion candy, along with figs, raisins, orange zest and pecans.

It’s a snap to make this, as you simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and whirl away until a smooth paste forms. Then you can either roll it into balls and dip it in coconut or chopped pecans, or you can press it into a pan and cut it into squares after chilling.

The original recipe called for sprinkling the complexion candy with powdered sugar, but I didn’t think it added much, so I skipped that step. You, however, may disagree. But one thing that we can agree on is that complexion candy is a guilt-free sweet. It’s also extremely versatile. For instance, you can sub in other dried fruits if you like, add a bit of ginger and cinnamon for a little spice, use walnuts if you prefer, or if you’re feeling really decadent throw in some chocolate chips or chopped bacon.

Complexion candy | Homesick Texan

If you’re a fan of fig bars or Lara Bars, then this is for you. Now, I would never advocate getting rid of the pralines, the brittles, festive cookie tray, and other holiday treats that always makes the season bright, but you might consider giving complexion candy a try. And you know what? You might just be surprised.

Complexion candy | Homesick Texan
5 from 1 vote

Complexion candy, a date, fig and pecan confection

Servings 32
Author Lisa Fain


  • 2 cups dates
  • 2 cups dried figs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans, walnuts or pistachios


  1. Place the dates, dried figs, raisins, pecans and orange zest in a food processor and blend until a paste forms. Form into 1-tablespoon-sized balls and dip in shredded coconut and/or chopped nuts. Alternatively, you can press the paste into a pan, chill for an hour and then cut into squares.

  2. Variations: You can replace the pecans with walnuts or almonds. You can also dip the balls into chopped nuts. For more flavor, try adding a pinch of ginger, cinnamon and clove. To make them even more decadent, you can add chocolate chips or chopped bacon.

  1. I just bought a huge thing of dates, intending to make sticky toffee pudding, but now they're all going into complexion candy. I love the name, and anything rolled in coconut is going to be good. I eat a lot of the fruit and nut loaf from Whole Foods, and this just sounds like a more portable version.

  2. Lisa Fain

    Deanna–Enjoy the complexion candy, though if I were you I might save some of your dates for sticky toffee pudding!

  3. I would suggest adding other dried fruits, such as dried cranberries or apricots. And if I were adding ginger, it would be the candied (crystalized) ginger chunks.

  4. Lisa Fain

    Janus–Those are great ideas!

  5. Lisa — I'm giving 3 of your books for gifts this Christmas. Love, love it! One is going to my brother, an ex-Texan who doesn't know how to cook Texas & needs to learn, one to folks who've started spending January in Texas, & the other to Kansas friends who love your kind of food. I'm an ex-Texan (tho not homesick for it) and I love your blog, recipes & stories. Thank you!

  6. Lisa Fain

    Angie–You're very welcome and thank you so much for giving my book as a gift!

  7. This reminds me of a recipe similar to Molly's of Orangette…totally yum!

  8. Lisa Fain

    Ash–I'll have to find her recipe–love everything she does. And the orange zest in this recipe totally makes the candy sing.

  9. Anonymous

    Having grown up in Texas I remember these as date balls, but never had a recipe — thanks!

  10. Lisa Fain

    Anon–You're welcome!

  11. DessertForTwo

    Yum! I've never heard of this Texas treat. Sounds great though! Going to TX for the holidays?

  12. Lisa Fain

    DessertForTwo–I think it's pretty obscure! And sadly, I won't be going home for the holidays–plane tickets were crazy expensive this year.

  13. Lisa–this recipe reminds me of HAIS, which is a sweet treat from the 1200s. Muḥammad bin al-Ḥasan bin Muḥammad bin al-Karīm al-Baghdadi wrote a book in 1226 titled "A Book of Dishes". He gave the recipe for hais, which has been redacted for the modern kitchen as: 2 2/3 cups breadcrumbs, 2 cups pitted dates, 1/3 cup ground almonds, 1/3 cup ground pistachios, and 7 Tablespoons melted butter or sesame seed oil (not toasted). Put all ingredients in a food processor and grind into a paste. Form into balls and roll in sugar if you like. I have had this and it really is good. Texan Complexion Candy is a fine example of a modern treat with an ancient history!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Robin–That's quite some history. Thank you for sharing!

  15. I've become such a fan of dates since living in Dubai. They are everywhere here! Looking forward to trying this recipe. from one homesick Texan to another – happy holidays and thanks for the wonderful recipes and blog!

  16. Lisa Fain

    Lynda–Aren't they wonderful? Enjoy the candy!

  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the recipe for the date nut "roll" my grandma but some how got lost before she passed away years ago. My aunt swears her "recipe" came from Grandma but I can tell you it didn't taste the same but this now… well this TASTES like Grandma's recipe!! Once again thank you! (now I need to go buy more ingredients because this batch won't last until new years)

  18. I make this but add 2 cups of Rice Crispies…my Mother made this recipe 🙂

  19. Dee Davis

    Saw your Cookbook on the back page of the NYT yesterday! Very cool! Congrats!

  20. Lisa Fain

    Peggy–You're very welcome! And that was fast, so glad it tastes like your grandma's recipe!

  21. Little Black Car

    I bought something similar to this last year at the Hindu temple in Stafford. I cannot remember what they were called, but they were balls composed of figs, dates, ghee, pistachios, and almonds, rolled in finely-shredded coconut. They were awesome.

  22. Lisa Fain

    Little Black Car–I haven't tried it with pistachios yet, but I think they would be terrific in this.

  23. Lisa Fain

    Brenda–Rice Krispies! Now that I'll have to try!

    Dee–Thank you!

  24. How well do you think this would work with the candied fruit that's used in fruitcake?

  25. liberty

    My granny makes these every Christmas (minus the orange zest) and her granny made them before her. We just call them date nut balls, but they are AWESOME!

  26. homegrown countrygirl

    What a delightful and simple recipe and a fabulous name for it, too! Thank you for sharing this, Lisa!

  27. Lisa Fain

    Janus–Instead of using dates and figs? It probably wouldn't work but you can give it a try!

    Liberty–Aren't they great? You should try the orange zest–it gives it a nice flavor.

    Homegrown countrygirl–You're very welcome!

  28. Anonymous

    I remember these! Yum!!

    In our house they were rolled into a log then sliced. Thanks so for reminding me of this treat and providing the recipe. Sure wish I could remember what it was called back in the day. Maybe just a "fig roll" or a "date roll." Hmmm.


  29. Downtown Foodie of Richmond

    Wow!!! Dates, figs, and pecans are three of my absolute favorite things. Yum!

  30. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I know exactly what you mean about sugar overload!

    I am actually craving a green salad with a vinegary dressing right now! I am going to try these first, salads are for summer!

    Happy Holidays,


  31. Anonymous

    These are almost sugarplums, just need some spices. They are super yummy!

  32. Carolyn

    I wonder if complexion is an adulteration of confection, of which this is. Moroccans added orange flower or rose water.

  33. Jimmye

    Every Christmas for the past I don't know how many years, I have told everyone about this candy! I loved it as a child and we called it Date Nut Roll. Mom rolled it into a log after rolling in nuts and then in cheese cloth then we cut it after a few days. It was divine. Thank you for this Christmas memory!

  34. Tina Davis

    Do they have to be kept cool. I work away from home for 2 weeks at a time and I am looking for healthy treats with no refrigeration. Thanks Tina

  35. Lisa Fain

    Tina–They should be fine.

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