NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — Buzz has been flying recently about the inevitable increase in the prices for chocolate through 2014. The general population caught wind of this news toward the end of 2013, and it has since stirred up quite the frenzy.

According to this article from the Wall Street Journal :

"Prices are on the rise due to a shortage of cocoa beans, which are roasted and ground to make chocolate. Market experts estimate that supplies will fall short of demand this year for the first time since 2010 and dry weather is expected to hurt the next harvest in West Africa, where 70% of cocoa beans are produced."

The decreased supply of cocoa beans has, in turn, caused a dramatic increase in cost for two of the main ingredients in chocolate: cocoa powder and cocoa butter. The Huffington Post explains that this problem is more widespread than the United States and is being dealt with across the world. Because the cost to produce one milk chocolate bar has increased by 31%, chocolate companies have been forced to increase their own selling prices, causing some negative backlash from customers. Some have questioned whether white chocolate may be easier on the wallet because it does not incorporate cocoa powder; however, white chocolate can contain up to 10 times more cocoa butter than dark chocolate.

The Journal also brings up the point that dark chocolate consumption has increased in recent times because of its health benefits, high antioxidant levels, and all-around "superfood" qualities. WebMD discusses a study, published in the Chemistry Central Journal in 2011, that compares the levels of antioxidants contained within dark chocolate to other commonly-known "superfoods," such as acai berries and pomegranates. Dark chocolate made with non-alkalized cocoa turned out to have significantly higher levels of antioxidants than the juices of the super fruits to which it was compared. After reading that study, who wouldn't want to invest in some good-quality dark chocolate?

So, the question at hand now is, what do we do with this lower supply and higher demand? While some may make it a point to reduce their chocolate consumption for the sake of their wallets, there are some people out there who may need to eliminate this renounced "luxury" food all together. For those of us who don't want to, or can't afford to pay the $12.25 per kilogram of chocolate, it's time to broaden our horizons.

Each of the following recipes has the potential to satisfy any sweet craving, even those persistent cravings for chocolate! Each recipe would also run you about the same amount of money, if not less, than a typical chocolate dessert would cost. I am well aware that there are some die-hard chocolate fans out there who will swear up and down that there are no good substitutions for a chocolate craving, and that opinion may absolutely be right; however,there are still some creative, delectable desserts that have similar properties to chocolate, like texture or sweetness, that may make this shortened supply and increased price a little less depressing.