As Christmas fast approaches, I am filled with complete motivation to bake with chocolate as the main ingredient… but not just any chocolate, dark chocolate.

In honor of all the delectable dark chocolate desserts I will be baking in the upcoming weeks, here is my ode to dark chocolate.

Life… It begins with a burst, a cry, a smile, laughter, hugs, kisses and tears.

The journey of life is often long, sometimes short; it is mountainous, with many valleys; there are sunrises and sunsets; thunderstorms bursting with thun­der, skies brightened with lightning.

The rare quiet moments, when stillness engulfs the soul and calm fills the spirit; there are obstreperous moments when chaos rules.There is love; there is hate. Life is bitter; life is sweet.

That first bite of dark chocolate is like the first breath of life: bitter… sweet. Just as pain precedes the joy that life brings, the bitterness of that first taste of dark chocolate precedes the sweetness that lingers long after it is gone.

Dark chocolate embodies life – with each bite, the bitter-sweet that is life is present and as it dissolves into memories, so too does life’s fleeting moments.

Dark chocolate evinces what life can be: goodness. Within dark chocolate’s composition, there are those phenomenal antioxidants that erase free radicals, those destructive molecules that can cause heart disease and other ailments.These antioxidants do for the body what a spring beach sunset does for the soul.

While milk chocolate or white chocolate may soothe for an hour or even a day, it is dark chocolate that goes the distance and provides benefits long after that last bitter-sweet taste. Like life, it has staying power.