My son, David, made this amazing cheesecake from an allrecipes.com recipe he adapted. Dave has made numerous chocolate turtle cheesecakes in an effort to duplicate the cheesecake that is being sold in a Greensboro, NC bakery. The Greensboro bakery uses a brownie crust. Dave has used graham cracker crusts and chocolate wafer crusts before. After making this recipe, he decided he likes the vanilla wafer crust the best with all the chocolate and caramel that's going on in this recipe. The only ingredient change he made to this recipe was to add chocolate ganache, chopped pecans and a caramel drizzle to the finished cheesecake to really make it decadent (like it wasn't decadent enough?). He gives this recipe his hearty endorsement, and says he likes it better than the bakery cheesecake. He has some tips, printed with the recipe below, to help you along as you make this outstanding dessert.
Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake
Crust: 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Turtle: 14-oz. package individually wrapped caramels
5-oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans + 1/2 cup chopped pecans for topping
Filling: 2 (8-oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs (Dave recommends organic free-range eggs)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate Ganache: 1-1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 oz. evaporated milk or heavy cream
Caramel Drizzle: 12-oz. pkg. caramel bits
4 oz. evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. (Dave says to put this in the freezer while you are making the caramel sauce; this will keep the crust from separating when you pour the caramel sauce over the crust.)
In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the caramels with the evaporated milk. Heat and stir frequently until smooth. Pour caramel sauce into crust, and top with pecans. (Dave says to put this back into the freezer while you are making the filling; same reasoning as above.)
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla; beat well until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt the chocolate, and blend into cream cheese mixture. Pour chocolate batter over pecans. (Dave did not follow these instructions; instead he creamed the cheese well till it was smooth and fluffy; then he added the sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes till sugar was well dissolved. THEN he added the vanilla and briefly combined. He next melted the chocolate by heating it in the microwave for about a minute on high and added the hot chocolate to the cream cheese mixture. THEN he added the eggs and beat on low speed till combined. He poured this chocolate mixture over the pecans.)
Bake 40-50 minutes, or until filling is set. Loosen cake from the edges of pan, but do not remove rim until cooled to prevent the top from cracking. Thoroughly cool cheesecake before refrigerating. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours, or overnight.
When cheesecake is thoroughly chilled, prepare ganache by microwaving the chips and 3 oz. milk together on high about 1 minute. Add more milk or cream if needed to make a soft ganache. Stir till well combined and spread over cheesecake.
Make caramel drizzle: Microwave 12 oz. pkg. caramel bits with 4 oz. evaporated milk on high till bits are soft and can be stirred, about 1 minute. Stir till well combined. Drizzle over top of cheesecake. (Dave said he bought squeeze bottles in Wal-Mart for under $1 that are perfect for drizzling. He pours the hot sauce into the bottle, caps it, then just lets it drip over the cake. Be careful not to squeeze or it could explode in your face. The hot sauce forms a vacuum. Just let it drip over the cake.) Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped nuts.