Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Butter 18 muffin cups and line with paper liners. In a medium saucepan, bring about 3 cups water to a boil over medium heat. Put the chopped dates in a medium bowl and cover with the hot water. Let the dates soften, about 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the 1 cup cool water, molasses, eggs, vanilla and salt; beat briefly to combine (the mixture may look curdled and runny).
In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined (do not overmix).
Drain the dates, discarding the liquid, and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool. Flatten the dates with the back of a spoon to crush any larger pieces. When cooled, stir the dates into the batter.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top. Bake in the middle of the oven until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed, 20 to 27 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely.