I have used this recipie, Chocolate Syrup Frosting. I think I have seen Hersheys syrup in dark chocolate in the store. That might give you the color. Also it is not buttercream. I does crust somewhat. It is a fantastic frosting and I highly recommend it.http://www.cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-2033-Chocolate-Syrup-Frosting.html
Sorry that happened to you. But, yes, Royal is like cement. I use it to put my gingerbread houses together and they adhere in literally a minute or so. Not a pleasant "icing." I believe it is used for intricate lace work and special projects. Just chalk it up to experience and know that your cake was beautiful.
Use vodka as a medium for the paste food coloring. Also can be used with the powdered silver, gold, coppers etc. I prefer vodka over the lemon extract because I think the lemon is bitter. Try it out on some unused fondant to get the feel of it.
Ok, now for one step beyond grossing out........When I had my infant son, the nurses would suggest using crisco grease as a "moisturiser" for a certain part of the female anatomy that got worn out by hungry babies....No further explanation necessary (my apologies to the men out there.)