600 ml cups low-fat (2%) milk
½ vanilla bean, split
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3 ½ tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar
1 pound fresh cherries, pitted
2 teaspoons arrowroot
Heat the milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium-high heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Put the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch into a bowl and lightly whisk together.
Return the milk to the boiling point. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Strain the mixture into a large measuring jug, then divide among 6 lightly buttered ½ cup ramekins.
Set the ramekins in a roasting pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until lightly set—the custards should remain slightly wobbly, because they will continue cooking for a few minutes after being removed from the oven—30 to 35 minutes. Lift them out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, chill until ready to serve.
To make the Cherry Compote, put the sugar and 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the cherries. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Lift out the cherries with a slotted spoon and put them into a serving bowl.
Mix the arrowroot with 1 tablespoon cold water. Stir into the cherry juices in the saucepan and simmer, stirring, until thick and clear, about 1 minute. Leave to cool a few minutes, then pour over the cherries. (The compote can be served warm or at room temperature.)
Spoon a little of the cherry compote over the top of each custard pot, and serve the rest of the compote in a bowl.