In a large mixing bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, shortening, and salt until just warm (120 degree F to 130 degree F) and shortening is almost melted, stirring constantly. Add the warm milk mixture to the flour mixture along with the eggs.
Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with a wooden spoon.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that's smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total).
Shape dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size (1 to 1-1/4 hours).
Punch dough down. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 16 portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Roll or pat each ball into a 3-inch circle. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.
Use a spatula to pick up and move the prepared circles of cinnamon or chocolate topper, or peel waxed paper off topper circles. Place one topper on each portion of the dough. Using a table knife or the bowl of a spoon, mark a design on the topper. Cover and let rise till portions are nearly doubled in size (30 to 40 minutes).
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheets. Cool on wire racks. Makes 16 servings.
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Add cinnamon for the cinnamon topper or unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate version. Cut in butter to make fine, even crumbs. Use a fork to stir in egg yolks and vanilla. Mix with hands until well combined. Divide topper mixture into 16 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 3-inch circle, or roll portions between sheets of waxed paper.