When some of my chocolate taster friends gave advice on how to improve, C.M. a funny comment, "yummm... nice, but it's too soft, can you make it harder like Royce's?" I explained it's probably because it's been out of the fridge for close to 6 hours and she came up with a crazy idea; she will get a box of Royce's, take a few pieces out of the fridge for 6 hours before testing the texture. Haha... warped, but hey, it's isn't all too hard an experiment. I don't know if she has the results yet, but all I know it was starting to whet my appetite (yet again) on chocolates (someone else's...).
My girlfriends and I were introduced to Royce during our schooldays. The Suntec boutique was (and still is I think) located strategically in front of Carrefour. Back then, we would share a box (usually champagne flavoured). It was wondrous, cold, creamy, velvety and melt into a smooth lush on the tongue. It's still sweet looking back, haha... and hey, in case you doing some math at the back your head, school days aren't exactly THAT long ago for us. ^^
I got to it quickly (normally quite efficient at food shopping). Went to the basement of Takashimaya in the next morning and got a box of "Bitter". I later found that it contains liquer (VSOP) and went back a few days later to get a box of "Mild Cacao". Not that I know what "Mild Cacao" flavour would taste like at that point of time, but the salesperson explained it was bittersweet, and I gladly parted with some cash.
Nama "Bitter" is quite strong in liquor flavour, it is one of acquiring taste I feel. Maybe it's because I don't normally eat chocolate with liquor, the first try was one of overwhelming alcoholic gush. I was eager to stop after the first piece, and drank some water to wipe the aftertaste clean. S. really liked it, and asked me to keep trying. Yup, slowly but surely, after a few pieces over the week, I started appreciating the complex flavours of chocolate with aged brandy. The flavours unfold slowly over time, so don't be hasty eating them! I'm quite hooked I must say. I'll try different liquor for some future batches.
"Mild Cacao" is a little too sweet for me. A bittersweet addict, I think I'll give it a miss next time and revert to "Champagne" or "Bitter". Referring to the picture above, here's my guide on flavours (hope I did not remember wrongly). Clockwise from dark blue: Milk, White, Champagne, Mild Cacao (which isn't bittersweet nor milk) and Bitter (with liquor). There is a seasonal one from Royce's catalogue.
I think a lot of us have a penchant for Royce because of its instant melt-in-the-mouth, velvety qualities. That aside, while most chocolatiers in the market enrobed their chocolates with a thin glossy shell for ease of storage and a good snap, use different molds/forms/decorations for differentiation, sell chocolate by the piece, it is somewhat refreshing to have someone dust cocoa powder over plain rectangular pieces of ganache and sell them in denominations of 20!