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FOOD : Delectable Decadence From the Junior League Comes 'the Ultimate Cheesecake'

June 26, 1988

JUNIOR LEAGUE cookbooks used to be handwritten, loose-leaf-notebook creations filled with untested, often-unreliable recipes. Now, they're elegant, well-tested fund-raisers that earn a pretty penny for league charities.

Recently released is the Creme de Colorado Cookbook (Junior League of Denver, Inc., $16.95). It's big and colorful; offers hundreds of upscale recipes contributed by Denver leaguers, their families and friends, and contains stunning photographs of some of Colorado's loveliest scenery.

One recipe was for a decadent Pecan Praline Cheesecake the authors called "the ultimate cheesecake experience."

And it may well be just that.

PECAN PRALINE CHEESECAKE

1 cup vanilla-wafer crumbs

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cups chopped pecans

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons flour

3 extra-large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Praline Topping

Combine crumbs, sugar and cup melted butter in small bowl. Mix thoroughly. Press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Chill. Combine pecans and remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Spread pecans evenly on baking sheet. Toast at 350 degrees until golden brown. (Watch carefully as pecans will burn quickly.) Cool.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and flour. Beat until light. Add eggs, 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Reserving cup of pecans for topping, add remaining pecans to cheese mixture. Pour cheese mixture over crust and bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven for 30 minutes. Loosen cake from rim of pan. When cake has cooled to room temperature, remove rim. Sprinkle reserved pecans on top of cheesecake, and drizzle Praline Topping over pecans. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Praline Topping

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons whipping cream

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugars, cream and butter in small saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring until sugars dissolve. Cook over low heat to just under the soft ball stage, or about 225 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat and cool slightly. Add vanilla and stir until creamy.

Food styled by Norman Stewart; prop styling by Nancy Linderman

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