Keep in mind that the best thing about this recipe are the pecans. Remember that you can avoid the pecans, but it adds an additional texture and depth of flavor that people just can't stop eating it.
2 1/2 cups pecan shortbread cookie crumbs (20 cookies or 2 pkgs of cookie)
4 tbsp melted butter
3 pkgs (8 oz ea) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cajeta/dulce de leche
Heat the oven at 375 degrees. While that is heating up, crush the cookies into crumbs. Mix cookie crumbs with butter. Press evenly of the bottom and sides on a ungreased springform pan (9 x 3 inches). Bake for 10 minutes take out of the oven and allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until nice and blended. Mix this on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time on low speed. Add the vanilla extract and beat in as well.
Pour over baked cookie crust. Swirl in some of the cajeta into the cheescake mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl in the cajeta making sure it is mixed well. Place into the oven and bake about 55 to 60 minutes or until center is firm. You might notice that it starts to break a little. This is another way to tell if the cheesecake is done.
Take out and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until chilled.
In a medium sauce pan, add the sugar on a medium or low heat. Add the pecans. Continue to stir and allow the sugar to melt until a golden brown. Move to a cookie sheet and allow to harden. Once hardened, coarsely shop the pecans.
Add the pecans to the cooled dulce de leche cheesecake. Once you have sprinkled the pecans, drizzle the leftover cajeta onto the cheesecake. You can also serve this with fresh whipped cream. This was enjoyed by many when we recently had friends over for dinner. It was great!!!