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 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. 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 tablespoons additional water to reach drizzling consistency. Serve warm. (If syrup becomes too thick 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.