Pecan Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

"My husband travels to South America regularly for business," says member Tia Lopez, "and he fell in love with dulce de leche in and on just about everything. He brings large jars of it home with him. His other love is cheesecake. I combined these two favorites in this lush caramel cheesecake."

CRUST

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs*
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter, melted

CHEESECAKE

3 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche or caramel sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

TOPPING

3/4 cup dulce de leche or caramel sauce
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted**

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Line outside of 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty foil. Combine all crust ingredients, except butter, in medium bowl; stir in butter until moistened. Press into bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly set. Cool completely on wire rack.

2. Pulse cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in food processor 20 to 30 seconds or until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, pulsing just until blended. Add 1 1/2 cups dulce de leche and vanilla; pulse just until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Pour over crust.

3. Bake 1 hour or until edges are puffed and top is dry to the touch. Center should move slightly when pan is tapped but should not ripple as if liquid. Remove foil. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 3 hours. Spread top with 3/4 cup dulce de leche; sprinkle with pecan halves. Refrigerate, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight until chilled. Store in refrigerator.

12 servings

PER SERVING: 680 calories, 44.5 g total fat (18.5 g saturated fat), 12 g protein, 62 g carbohydrate, 155 mg cholesterol, 385 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

TIPS *To make chocolate cookie crumbs, pulse chocolate wafer cookies or chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor or place in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. (20 wafer cookies or 9 sandwich cookies = 1 cup crumbs.)
**To toast pecans, place on baking sheet; bake at 350ºF. for 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly darker in color.