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In the Kitchen with... Janine Knop
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Ben Lochard
IN THE KITCHEN WITH... April/May 2017
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Janine Knop
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Check out these recipes from Janine Knop:

Lemon Cream Tart

Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

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Atlantic, Iowa, baker brings her baked delights to the West Des Moines/Waukee area.

Have great recipes, will travel. That’s the mantra of Janine Knop of Atlantic in southwest Iowa. The longtime baker—cheesecakes are her specialty—has taken her skills on the road and expanded her circle of popularity.

The busy entrepreneur has opened Miss NiNi’s Desserterie in Hawthorne Centre at 9500 University Avenue in West Des Moines. Fine desserts are the signature offering, along with various bakery items, such as three-layer cakes, cookies, coffeecakes, and brownies, along with breakfast items and light meals. Wine and craft beers and espresso are also available. Louise Brighton of Ankeny, who is Janine’s daughter, is managing the new spot.

“It has been a three-year process to get it opened,” Janine explains. “For a new business, we were seeking a location with great visibility so it would be easy to find.” However, for her and her husband, Fred, a crop and livestock farmer, this is not their first commercial venture.

They also have owned a fabric and quilt store, a bookstore, and a country gift shop for 18 years. Janine’s baking has been a mainstay for years, and their home has a licensed commercial kitchen for her work. In the central Iowa market, she also has sold her treats at Friedrich’s Coffee and Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure. She sells online, too, at “We mail nationwide, and cheesecakes arrive frozen,” she says.

She learned baking techniques from her mother while growing up near Bismarck, North Dakota, and earned home economics education and food and nutrition degrees from North Dakota State University. After graduation, she worked for a Midwest power company testing and developing recipes for a bevy of small appliances, including microwave ovens. She had a TV program and ran a cooking school. Even now, she has a radio program and writes a food blog. Through her daughters’ 4-H involvement, she has passed along her foodie tendencies to them.

“Our daughters might not go into farming, but it is my hope that this brand will be our legacy,” she explains. “It really is a family business.” Daughter Louise and husband, Jb, honed their food and beverage skills from working for Hy-Vee. Daughter Brittney’s husband, Adam Roorda, handles the marketing. The Knops have two grandchildren.

Janine makes the 160-mile round trip from Atlantic two or four days each week. She does much of the baking at home, and there are four part-time bakers in West Des Moines.

Cheesecake flavors include Lemon, Raspberry Lemon Swirl, Velvet Fudge, Decadent Turtle, Italian Tiramisu, Caramel Chocolate Chunk, Pumpkin Praline, Peanut Butter Fudge, Creamy Vanilla, and Strawberry Citrus Lime Swirl. Cheesecakes can be purchased whole or by the slice. One specialty is the 4-in-1 cake. Patrons can order four flavors so that there are four flavor quarters in the whole cheesecake.

Three-layer cake offerings include Champagne, Carrot, Lemon Poppyseed, and Royal Red Velvet.

On the savory side Miss NiNi’s offers breakfast sandwiches and soup and sandwich combinations. Daily specials include a meatball sub with butternut squash soup, red pepper Gouda soup and turkey-bacon melt, and cheesy beef soup with Greek salad, among others. The shop, located between Mainstream Boutique and Wasabi, is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The baker prides herself on her true “homemade/scratch” philosophy. “I can pick up on a commercial taste with box mixes. That flavor does not prevail here.”

Janine, who is full of energy, has great plans for the future. “Perhaps we’ll open more spots like this one. Plus, I would love to offer baking school retreats. I think everyone would enjoy that.”

When others might be slowing down, she’s revving up her game. “I love to be busy, whether it’s setting up this dessert bakery or helping with lambing on the farm. I need to be creating. My lifelong baking experiences have made me ready for this.”

try it! Visit Miss NiNi's Desserterie to try it out yourself!
9500 University Avenue, Suite 2104 | West Des Moines/Waukee | 515-264-2112

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