The day before: put the sultanas in a bowl, just cover with brandy and leave to soak for as long as you can. Ideally make this well ahead.
After the sultanas have soaked for at least 1 hour, put the nuts and allspice in a food processor and chop coarsely. Put in a bowl with the brandy-soaked sultanas and mix together with a spoon. Melt the butter over a low heat.
The strudel sheets are large rectangles. Cut one in half lengthwise and brush one half with butter. Spoon one-eighth of the mixture down the centre, leaving a 5 cm/2 in margin along the sides. Fold the margins over partly to cover the middle, then roll up from one side into a neat sausage. Lay this on the baking tray and brush with butter. Repeat with the other 7 half-sheets, packing them in tightly. If there is any butter left, pour it over. Make shallow cuts with a sharp knife to delineate 4 cm/1½ in portions.
About 15 minutes into the cooking time, make the syrup: put all the ingredients in a small heavy pan with 300 ml/½ pt water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over the lowest possible heat for 30-40 minutes. Turn off and leave in the pan until the baklava are cooked.
Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over them through a sieve. Leave to stand overnight at room temperature and do not cut until just before serving. Cut down through the existing portion marks.
Serve as petits fours after dinner or mid-morning with coffee.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.