With a mixer on medium, cream the butter and sugar until they're fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla extract (and almond extract, if you're using it) and mix for another 10 seconds until the extract is incorporated. Add the salt and flour. Set the mixer to low and blend for a few seconds, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is well combined, about
Form the dough into two balls and flatten them a bit so that they're about 1 1/2 inches thick. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 30 minutes, or freeze it for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°.
Remove a dough ball from the refrigerator. Generously flour your work surface and roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.
You'll need two cookie cutters, one that's small enough to comfortably fit inside the other. (We used two star shapes, 3 1/2 inches across and 1 1/2 inch across.) Cut out shapes using the larger cookie cutter. Transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, then use the smaller cutter to cut and remove a shape from the center of each cookie. Place a colored hard candy in the space.
Gather the leftover dough and repeat the rolling and cutting steps, using the second dough ball as needed.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Cool the cookies on the sheet until the candy is set, about 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack.