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1. Combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup or molasses in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large mixing bowl; cool 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and cloves. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well. Add flour mixture, and beat until well mixed. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. For each bear, shape dough into one 1-inch ball, one 3/4-inch ball, six 1/2-inch balls, and five 1/4-inch balls. On an ungreased cookie sheet, flatten the 1-inch ball to 1/2 inch for body. Attach the 3/4-inch ball for head and flatten to 1/2 inch. Attach the 1/2-inch balls for arms, legs, and ears. Place one of the 1/4-inch balls on head for nose. Arrange remaining 1/4-inch balls atop ends of arms and legs for paws. Use chocolate pieces for eyes and buttons.
3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until done. Carefully remove and cool on wire rack.
4. If desired, combine powdered sugar and enough milk or light cream (about 2 teaspoons) to make icing of piping consistency. Tint with food color. Use icing to pipe on bow ties onto cookies. Makes about 24.