Preheat oven to 325°F (160 C), if using a silver 9-inch springform pan (or to 300°F/150°C if using a dark nonstick springform pan). Mix crumbs and butter; press firmly onto bottom and 2 inches up side of pan.
Place caramels and milk in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Stir in pecans. Pour half of the caramel mixture into crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Cover and refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over caramel layer in crust.
Bake 65 to 70 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing side of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Microwave reserved caramel mixture on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Pour over cheesecake. Melt chocolate and drizzle over cheesecake. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.
Makes 12-16 servings.
Date: April 8, 2005