It's all in a name, right? That's what Lou Ginocchio of Cincinnati's O Pie O discovered when Honey Vinegar Pie sent customers' heads spinning. "No one was expecting a pie with vinegar in its name to be this luxurious."
Beans give the fullest vanilla flavor, but a jarred product called vanilla bean paste is a close second (and saves you the step of straining)
For max flavor and creaminess, Lou prefers European-style butter, which contains less water and more fat than a standard stick. Irish Kerrygold is one common brand
Keep stirring right up until filling the shell so the cornmeal doesn't settle, then get the pie in the oven right away.
Take a cue from pastry chefs everywhere, and keep flaky sea salt in your pantry. (Maldon is the most famous brand, available online or at specialty stores.) Sprinkle it on cookies, brownies, even ice cream for a sparkling, crunchy hit of salt to balance and brighten the sweet.