Though strudel may not be Jewish in origin,
we've "made it our own." The ingredients of this one seem
particularly appropriate for Rosh Hashanah, as pomegranates
are one of the symbolic fruits used at this holiday.
To make filling: Peel, core, and dice pears. Place large, heavy saucepan over high heat until
very hot. Melt butter and add pears. Cook 2 minutes more and stir again.
Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt over pears Allow
sugar to melt, stirring occasionally. Bring mixture to boil, then remove from
heat. Strain liquid from pears. Cook liquid over medium-high heat, stirring
often, until volume is reduced to about 1/2 cup (will have very syrupy
consistency). Return pears to saucepan, stir to blend, stir in pomegranate
(Filling can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in the
refrigerator until needed.)
To make pastry: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 sheet phyllo on dry, flat surface. Brush
with melted butter, top with next sheet, repeat with a total of 4 sheets.
Return remaining sheets to refrigerator, wrapped in plastic. Cut pastry in
quarters. Work with 1/4 at a time, leaving others under slightly damp cloth.
Place 1/3 cup filling in center of pastry and form into a square. Wrap like a
package, folding in sides and brushing with melted butter to secure. Place
seam side down on heavy aluminum cookie sheet, brush liberally with butter,
and cover with plastic wrap. Continue making packages until you have used all
filling. (Packages can be assembled a day ahead; brush with butter, wrap with
plastic wrap, and refrigerate.) Bake in preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes, or
until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
Garnish: Transfer to work surface. Dust each package with powered sugar and decorate
with gel to resemble a present. Sprinkle serving plate lightly with colored
sugars, then top with decorated package.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.