Zest and juice the orange, measure out ½ cup of orange juice.
In a small saucepan, combine the measured orange juice with the chopped dates. Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat off.
Add butter to the pot, stir until melted and remove from heat. Allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners, or spray with baking spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, almonds, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.
Peel and grate the apple; add grated apple, milk, eggs, and vanilla to the cooled date mixture. Stir well to combine.
Add mixture all at once to the flour mixture, stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy.)
Divide batter between 12 prepared muffin cups, filling each to almost full.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 - 22 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.