The French term for button candies is nonpareils, which means "without peer." No one who remembers them from their youth would argue with that appellation. Nonpareils-dark chocolate buttons topped with sugar beads-are the caviar of childhood.
Yield Makes about 50
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon pure vegetable shortening
1/4 cup white or colored sugar beads
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.
Spoon the melted chocolate in nickel-size circles onto prepared baking sheet. Cool for 20 minutes; sprinkle with sugar beads. Let nonpareils harden in a cool place for 4 hours before serving.