In September 2015, Mollie Adler was hit with tough news.
Recently divorced, she was laid off from her office management job and facing the possibility of foreclosure on her Shoreham home.
Struggling to find a way to support her two children and keep her home, Ms. Adler decided to open a business doing what she loves — baking.
So a few months later, in January 2016, Miss Mollie’s Brownies was born.
“I wanted to make a living, but do it by doing something I loved,” she said. “Baking makes me happy. And so I feel like that happiness goes into my brownies and makes other people happy.”
Only a month after opening the business, however, Ms. Adler was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She underwent a double mastectomy in April 2016, putting her out of work for the second time in less than a year. She returned to work after a few months, but soon learned she’d need a second surgery related to the mastectomy, which put her out of work for a third time in December.
But even that didn’t stop Ms. Adler from pursuing her dream.
This February, she started Miss Mollie’s Brownies once again. Ever since, she’s been baking over 200 brownies a week in her home kitchen to sell locally in Wading River.
A one-person company, she makes sure her children, 18-year old Murray and 13-year-old Melanie, taste every batch of brownies she makes. Without them, she could never know for sure how they tasted.
About a decade ago, Ms. Adler lost the ability to taste and smell when a nerve was damaged due to another medical condition.
“I eat by presentation and texture,” she said. “I have primary taste — I can tell if something is sweet or salty — but I can’t taste any flavor.”
Ms. Adler currently sells nine different varieties of brownies: classic, nutty, mint, blondie, espresso bean, a brownie/blondie combination called Soulmates, a raspberry brownie — called Raz-Murray after her son — a peanut butter flavor named Best Friends and a salted caramel called TurtleBird in honor of her daughter.
TurtleBird is a name Melanie gave her mom. In the card that comes attached to each brownie, Melanie wrote that the turtle’s hard shell “represents her mom’s toughness [and] her strength,” while the bird represents her “determination to keep going on [and] soaring higher.”
Ms. Adler hopes to add another variety to the mix this fall — a sparkly pink brownie to symbolize her battle with breast cancer. She intends to donate a portion of the sales to Fight Like A Girl, a Wading River organization that raises funds to help local families fighting cancer.
“As my company grows and gets more stable, I want to be able to give back to those that helped me,” she said. “It’s been very humbling and the people I have met are truly incredible.”
In addition to the breast cancer brownie, Ms. Adler created a Facebook page called Boobs Don’t Define You, where she shares her story and hopes to help women feel comfortable in their own skin and realize that all bodies are beautiful.
“I want women to learn to love their bodies no matter what their issues may be,” she said between tears. “People have said I’ve inspired them, and it’s humbling to know I can inspire somebody.”
Anyone who’d like to try Miss Mollie’s Brownies can find Ms. Adler at the Port Jefferson Farmers Market on Sunday mornings. Her brownies are also sold at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, Bagel Lady Cafe in Shoreham, My Creperie and Greek Island Diner in Wading River.
Top photo: Shoreham mother Mollie Adler in her kitchen, where she created Miss Mollie’s Brownies. About a decade ago, she lost the ability to taste and smell. (Credit: Nicole Smith)