Heat oven to 400°F Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add all remaining cookie ingredients. Beat until well mixed.
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten balls to 1/4 inch thick with bottom of buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely.
Melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth (2-4 minutes). Drizzle or pipe chocolate on cookies making a Christmas tree design, if desired.
TIP: Bake a variety of cookies using the same dough by rolling balls in decorator sugars or pressing halved red or green candied cherries onto cookies or rolling balls in finely chopped nuts before baking.