Total Calories: 451
Combine crumbs and butter. Press into side and bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350°.
In heavy pan, melt unwrapped caramels with milk over low heat. Stir frequently until smooth. It takes a while. (They scorch easily; don’t get on the phone.) Pour over crust, and top with nuts.
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed on electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Blend in chocolate. Pour over nut-topped crust. Bake 40 minutes at 350°. When done, the top will crack gently at the outside edge. Take it out of the oven. Do not overbake. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Cool before removing rim. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
Be aware that fat-free cream cheese doesn’t work the same in cheesecakes. It is made with skim milk and the texture is not as creamy as regular cream cheese. Low-fat, or Neufchatel cheese, is softer, (doesn’t need to be softened for mixing), and is almost interchangeable with regular. It will work fine for all the cheesecakes in this book.
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