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(JillWellington/Pixabay)

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a little different due to social distancing guidelines.

An age-old argument rears its gnarled head once more as we progress through fall:

What’s the best Thanksgiving dessert?

Pumpkin-based concoctions are usually the first to come to mind in this debate. And sure enough, many IUP students ride the pumpkin train every year.

Gina Biancarelli (senior, nursing) and Jordann Noel (junior, special education) prefer the staple pumpkin pie.

“It’s simply classic,” Biancarelli said.

This dessert consists of a thick, spiced, pumpkin custard baked in a pie shell. The traditional pumpkin pie spices are cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and sometimes allspice.

“I love the texture, and you can add all the whipped cream you want,” Noel said.

Another fairly common pumpkin confection is the pumpkin roll.

“[It’s] just a staple dessert,” Elizabeth Stash (sophomore, athletic training) said. “It’s literally something I look forward to every year.”

A twist on the Swiss roll, pumpkin rolls are thin, light cakes that are rolled into logs with a filling, usually cream cheese frosting. Swiss rolls (also known by about a million other names) can be a bit daunting to make because of their tendency to crack during the roll, but a good way to combat the dreaded crevasses is to be sure you don’t overcook the cake.

Despite the notoriety, many bakers love to make pumpkin rolls every year.

“It’s just so creamy and soft,” Kayla Johnson (senior, hospitality management) said. “It’s also super fun to make.”

In recent years, however, home cooks have gotten more avant-garde in their pumpkin presentation.

“My mom makes us each an individual dessert for Thanksgiving every year, and I always choose pumpkin cheesecake,” Brooke Cassidy (senior, psychology and anthropology) said.

The other most popular fruit (pumpkin’s a fruit, right?) dessert is the American classic, apple pie.

Alec Petrosky (senior, geography) and Emily Dulion (graduate student, criminology) swear by the traditionally double-crusted delicacy. Generally speaking, crisp, sour apples are diced, tossed in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and baked between two flaky crusts.

“My mom makes it from scratch every year,” Dulion said.

Apple pies are also a good substitute for those who don’t like the orange gourd.

“I never liked pumpkin, and fruit pies are the best kind of pies,” Petrosky said.

Though pumpkin and apple are the reigning champions of Thanksgiving, there’s more than enough room on the table for other desserts.

Dakira Jones (junior, nursing) is a fan of sweet potato pie.

“[It’s] way better than pumpkin,” Jones said.

Kimberly Rodemaker (junior, speech and language pathology) loves cranberry salad, and Josh Olarsch (senior, music education) swears allegiance to chocolate bourbon pecan pie.

“It has a great contrasting taste of bitter and sweet,” Olarsch said.

Whatever your taste, there’s surely a Thanksgiving dessert for you. Even if you’re staying at school this year to limit exposure to friends and family, quite a few desserts are fairly simple to make, even if you’ve never baked once in your life.

Pre-made pie crusts are a godsend. Almost every grocery store will have all the ingredients you need to make a serviceable dessert – usually all right next to each other – and if all else fails, store-bought pies and cakes are pretty good.

Stay safe, follow CDC guidelines, and above all, treat yourself this Thanksgiving.

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