My inspiration for this gigantic cake of deliciousness is the Date-Pecan Coffee Cake on pages 218-220 of The Angelica Home Kitchen . It is truly one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes can stand a huge amount of tinkering, and are consistently tasty and healthy.
It's a giant cake when you make it in a 9-in. springform pan, as instructed. More than likely, next time I make it, I'll be pouring the batter into cupcake cups.
From the (less than optimal) photo, you can see that the date-pecan-ness is really a ribbon of sweet and crunchy flavor between two very tasty cake layers (you also can see my poor job of unmolding it from the pan). It's almost like a crumb cake, with the soft crumb topping, but with much more flavor. The original recipe calls for maple sugar, but I used agave nectar and some barley malt (which I'll leave out next time, but someone asked me to try it so I did). I also used less agave nectar for the maple syrup, and it worked out just fine. The only other alteration I made was to use Cake Spice instead of cinnamon. But you could easily use Five Spice powder in a 1:3 ratio with cinnamon and get a similar effect.
Since I didn't make that many changes to the recipe, I don't feel right about republishing it here without permission. Instead, I'll strongly recommend that you borrow The Angelica Home Kitchen from your local library (Inter Library Loan, if they don't have it) or buy it online, if you've got the $$$. You could also ask for it as a holiday gift from someone who might need a great gift idea.