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Turtle Cheesecake

9 Nov
It isn’t Pumpkin Pie.  But, oh how it plays on your Holiday Table! 

CRUST:
4 c. graham cracker crumbs
12 tbsp. melted butter
Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter; press mixture onto bottom and sides of buttered 10 inch springform pan (2 inches deep). Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
FILLING:
1 (14 oz.) bag light (vanilla) caramels
1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 c. chopped pecans, toasted (see note)
4 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. semi sweet chocolate morsels, melted

In heavy 1 1/2 quart saucepan, melt caramels with evaporated milk over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. (If desired, dip a few pecan halves into caramel mixture and set aside to use later as garnish.) Pour caramel mixture over cooled crust; top with chopped toasted pecans.Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing on medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla. Blend in melted chocolate. Pour mixture over pecans and caramel in crust, starting at outer edge.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 1 hour and 20 to 25 minutes, or until edges begin to crack. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan and loosen cheesecake with spatula.

CHOCOLATE TOPPING:
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate morsels
3 tbsp. evaporated milk (see note)
Whipped cream (optional for garnish)
Pecan halves dipped in caramel (optional for garnish)

Melt chocolate morsels (in top of double boiler or on medium power in microwave oven). Add evaporated milk (or 2 percent milk and butter; see note). Stir until mixture is smooth.Spread chocolate topping over chilled cheesecake. Garnish with dollops of whipped cream and pecan halves dipped in caramel, if desired. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 1 (6 pound) cheesecake

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