"Our guests love this rich, delicious make-ahead dessert," field editor Jo Groth of Plainfield, Iowa relates.
- 2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 60 wafers)
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 package (14 ounces) caramels
- 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
- 2 cups chopped pecans, toasted, divided
- 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and lightly cooled
- Whipped cream, optional
- In a bowl, combine wafer crumbs and butter; blend well. Press into the bottom and 2 in. up the sides of a 10-in. springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.
- In a saucepan or microwave melt caramels with milk; stir until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes. Pour into crust; top with 1-1/2 cups of pecans.
- In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Add chocolate; mix just until blended. Carefully spread over pecans. Return to baking sheet.
- Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
- Remove sides of pan. Garnish with remaining pecans and whipped cream if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 14-16 servings.
Originally published as Turtle Cheesecake in Taste of Home April/May 1995, p67
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