By Sandi Moynihan
When most people think of the USO, they think of Bob Hope. So when we saw Hope’s lemon meringue pie in the 1992 USO Celebrity Cookbook, we had to give it a try.
Hope’s decades-long involvement with the USO kicked off May 6, 1941, during a show at California’s March Field. After that first performance, Hope went on to entertain service members at USO shows around the world for over 50 years, traveling far and wide to Asia, North Africa, Alaska and the Middle East.
Hope’s shows featured comedians, singers, actors and actresses and led the way for scores of other celebrities to share their time and talent with service members and military families around the world.
In 1990, Hope kicked off his final USO tour to visit service members participating in Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
In 1997, the USO worked with Congress to designate Hope the first honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces. That same year, the “Spirit of Hope” Award debuted at the USO Gala and is now presented annually to recipients whose patriotism and service reflects that of Hope.
This lemon pie, which is a hybrid of the 1992 USO Celebrity Cookbook and bobhope.com recipes, was delicious and easy to make. From start to finish, this pie takes about two hours and all the ingredients together cost about $10.
There’s quite a bit of versatility in the recipe, especially when it comes to the crust. You can either buy a pre-made crust, or make one of your own. We tried two different homemade crusts – traditional pie and graham cracker – and enjoyed them both.
For anyone watching their gluten intake, this recipe can easily be made gluten free with a gluten-free pie or graham cracker crust. All the other ingredients are already naturally gluten free (make sure to read ingredient labels though, just in case). If you’re not a fan of meringue, or want to cut a few extra calories from the dish, the pie still tastes great without the final fluffy layer.
Bob Hope’s Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted from the USO of Pioneer Valley Celebrity Cookbook.
For the crust (pick one of three options)
Option 1: Purchase a pre-made, pre-cooked crust of your choice.
Option 2: Make a homemade graham cracker crust. We tested the recipe below.
(Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- 1 + ½ cups graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish. Crush graham crackers into crumbs in a food processor. You can also use a plastic bag and a rolling pin to crush the cookies into a fine dust. Once the crackers are crushed, mix them in a bowl with the melted butter, brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
Pour mixture into the greased dish and, using a spoon or greased hands, press the mixture firmly along the sides and bottom of the dish. Bake crust for 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely.
Option 3: Make a traditional pie crust. We tested the recipe below.
(Recipe adapted from Crisco)
- 1 + 1/3 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chilled vegetable shortening
- 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch pie dish. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in chilled vegetable shortening with a pastry cutter or two forks. Stir in just enough water so dough sticks together to form a ball. Flatten ball into a disc, wrap with plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured service, roll out dough into a large circle, roughly two inches wider than your pie dish. Place rolled out dough into pie dish adjust dough so it covers the bottom and sides of the dish. Cut off any excess dough and discard. Generously poke crust with a fork along bottom and all sides. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
For the filling
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 cup boiling water
- 4 egg yolks (slightly beaten)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- Rind of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt to taste
In a large saucepan combine corn starch and sugar. Slowly add water, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. At slightly beaten egg yolks, butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and salt. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour into baked pie shell. Let cool completely.
For the meringue
- 3 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Slowly whip egg whites in a large bowl until they begin to foam. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time. Whip mixture until stiff peaks form. Gently spread meringue mixture over cooled, filled pie. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown. Let cool completely. Chill pie until it is served.