Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (14-ounce) package soft caramels, unwrapped
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Sweetened whipped cream for accompaniment (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
In a small bowl, combine crumbs and butter. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and 1 inch up side of of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
In a small microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and milk on HIGH for 4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes, or until caramels are completely melted. Pour over baked crust and sprinkle with pecans. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add chocolate and vanilla and mix well. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended; pour cheesecake mixture over pecans, pouring first around the edge and filling center last. Place springform pan on baking sheet.
Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Store in refrigerator.