Place caramels and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium low heat, stirring continually, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in ½ cup of chopped pecans. Pour into pie crust.
1. Combine the cream cheese and milk in the blender. Process until smooth. Add pudding mix; process for about 30 seconds more.
2. Pour pudding mixture over the caramel layer, covering evenly. Chill, loosely covered ( or maybe tightly to keep poking fingers out) until set, about 15 minutes.
3. Drizzle the fudge topping over pudding layer in a decorative pattern. Make some zigzags for fun. Sprinkle the top of cake with the remaining pecans. Chill, loosely covered keeping an eye out for Little Jack Horners until serving time. Serves 12.
For a gooey sweet variation, drizzle ¼ cup of caramel topping over the cheesecake instead of the fudge topping.
Some hints you might find helpful:
- Nuts are easier to chop when they're warm. You can heat them in the microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or in the oven at 350º for about 5 minutes.
- Would you like to quick way to drizzle the fudge topping? Put it in a re-sealable plastic bag, snip off a corner of the bag, then pipe away with the topping over the pudding layer!
- You can do a make ahead with this recipe through to step 3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (Hide it in the vegetable bin, they'll never think of looking there;) Add the topping and decorate with the pecans just before serving.
- You can make your own homemade pie crust with chocolate sandwich cookies. Mix 1 ½ cups of cookie crumbs with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350º for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Goes great with some hot mint tea and your best friend.