Figs were brought to North America by the Spanish missionaries who came to California to build a network of Catholic missions. They found the climate particularly favorable to growing figs, which resulted in the naming of the purple-black variety known as the Black Mission. Other figs can be used for this recipe, including the large, fat, white-fleshed, green-skinned Calimyrna, and the small, thick-skinned, green Kadota. Or consider an assortment of all three.
1/3 cup crème fraîche
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tsp. milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ripe figs, a single variety or a mixture
6 oz. St.-André or other triple-cream cheese,   such as Explorateur, cut into 12 wedges
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, chopped mint, lemon juice and as much of the milk as needed to form a thick, creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Halve the figs and arrange them on individual plates or a platter. Intersperse the wedges of cheese among the figs. Drape the prosciutto around the figs and drizzle with the crème fraîche mixture. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Summer, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).