Ginger-Spiced Rice Pudding with Date-Pepper Syrup
In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to simmering over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, until syrupy and reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/3 cup chopped pitted dates and two or three grinds additional pepper; cool slightly. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp. additional water to reach drizzling consistency. Serve warm. (If syrup becomes too hard upon standing, transfer to a bowl and microwave 20 to 30 seconds or until softened. If needed, thin with additional water.) Makes 1/2 cup.