Combine sugar and butter in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg and almond extract; continue beating until well mixed.
Combine flour, cocoa and salt in another bowl. Add flour mixture gradually to butter mixture, beating at low speed and scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten slightly. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate 2 hours or overnight until firm.
Heat oven to 375°F.
Shape dough with floured hands, one-half at a time (keep remaining dough refrigerated), into 1-inch balls. Form balls into desired shapes (balls, squares, logs, etc.) or follow variations as directed below. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until set. (Surface may crack slightly.) Cool completely. Decorate as desired.
Nut Rolls: Shape dough into 2- to 3-inch logs. Bake as directed. Cool completely. Dip both ends of each cookie into melted chocolate chips, then in finely chopped nuts.
Surprise–Filled: Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Make depression in center of each cookie with back of teaspoon. Bake as directed. Cool completely. Fill with maraschino cherry half. Spoon melted vanilla milk chips over top of cookie.
Cut-Out Cookies: Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, one-third at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 3-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake as directed. Decorated as desired.
- If you want to use a cookie press to form cookies, it is not necessary to chill dough before forming cookies.
- Too much flour can make your cookies dry and crumbly. To measure flour, lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off with a straight edge.