It has not been too long since the freak shake phenomenon swept the world – and although it has taken some time for it to get available on menus here, we are willing to forgive local restaurateurs if they give us a dessert that just looks so jaw-droppingly good.
If you are on one of those new-fangled diets and there is a cheat day round the corner – alternatively, every day is a cheat day for the hedonistic ones like me – this is the perfect treat to sink your pearly whites into.
The nomenclature of the freakshake (or monster shake) comes from its mind-boggling, towering countenance. Imagine donuts, cronuts, brownies, cupcakes, pastries, profiteroles, ice cream blocks, candy, fruit pies, waffles, churros, syrups-jams-and-compotes galore or absolutely anything else, forming a summit for your most ardent sugar-rush fantasy. Perfect, no?
And, best of all, they are getting darn creative about it here as well. The first to start in the city was The Greedy Man Pizzeria, and a quick online image search (‘freakshakes Pune’) will reveal droves of swooning aficionados trilling praises of their Nutella ‘Greedy’ shake. The familiarity of this item can be a bit erratic here, as the chef-owner himself professes to piling on the freshest baked/made goods from his kitchen each new time. But we are definitely not complaining, with the likes of whole chocolate tarts, cookies, choco popsicles, sprinkles, oodles of whipped cream, fudge bars, Kit Kats, ice cream scoops, chocolate ganache injections (!) and tons more atop that humongous beverage. Limited servings of this behemoth are available every day, with special flavours on weekends, such as red velvet and Oreo cookie for now, both of which display equally staggering crowning glories all on the base of a thick, gooey chocolate shake. Coupled with slices of thin, cheesy, spartanly delicious pizza, you have yourself a winner on hand.
Not so far away (as well as in another branch across town), Raasta Café has a diminutive but laden-with-potential monster shake duo of its own. The Raasta Oreo walnut brownie freakshake brings together a chocolate lover’s favourite epiphany – a giant jam jar filled with a frothy, creamy chocolate milkshake topped with a veritable tower of sweet, melt-in-the-mouth whipped cream, studded with pieces of choco-vanilla cookies, huge chunks of roasted walnut-laden brownies, sloppy drizzles of chocolate syrup and some fresh strawberries. But if you are one of those rarer ‘I don’t like chocolate so much’ kind of sweet tooth people, there is a Raasta mixed berries cheesecake freakshake too – this one employs the addition of a whole cheesecake (buttery crust et al) into the body of the shake, bringing a tart goodness to the rich underlying chocolate and cream flavours. This is then crowned with similar toppings, including the addition of plenty more fresh berries and strawberry syrup.
Meanwhile, there is another new entrant on the freak block. 212 All Day Café and Bar offers a dual menu as well, similar in that one of its shakes seduces lovers of chocolate and the other aims to provide mind-blowing flavours aside from the very same ingredient. In ‘All Things Chocolate’ here, there is a Nutella-cream-milk base that is straight up tasty, laced as it is with undercurrents of hazelnut. On top goes the much-awaited peak of whipped cream, with friendly accompaniments such as chunks of warm, freshly baked brownies, crackly choco cigars, bright and happy Gems, wafer-ensconcing slabs of Kit Kat, chocolate ice cream, molten white chocolate and plenty of chocolate shavings, both ebony and ivory. On the other hand, you can find an incredible burst of flavour in the simple banana and butterscotch monster shake, taking the two simplest, most comfort-foody elements and bringing them together in some next-level magic. This shake’s toppings include balls of nutty Ferrero Rocher chocolate with their melting cores, butterscotch ice cream and crunchy caramel butterscotch chips, rivers of condensed milk and liquid white chocolate, tons of fresh banana slices, chocolate vermicelli and tart cherries.
Last, but not the least, another new kid on the block serving up these Frankenstein beverages over the last couple of months is Superhott – and it is pretty much hitting the concept out of the ballpark. But then, what would you expect with a kitchen that doles out bacon and panko fried ice cream, chilli chocolate ice cream and a larger menu of these made with liquid nitrogen and served in puff pastry cones? The brand mainly takes customisable orders for spectacularly crafted, themed, fondant cakes and other desserts for occasions, but the new café outlet also offers freakshakes on its regular menu in a range of different avatars. For instance, when the Captain America movie released earlier this year, there was a special freakshake dedicated to the primary character, with strawberries and blueberries to provide his flagship shield’s hues. The Hulk freakshake had a giant dose of mint choco chip ice cream to cool gourmands down. There was also a ‘Panda’ freakshake with swirls of dark chocolate, white chocolate and Oreos, a mango one piled with fresh fruit during the summer, a red velvet freakshake, and a signature chocolate one that is repeated fairly often, with 55 per cent dark chocolate infused with full-fat milk and cream to form the base. According to the owner, toppings vary across cookies, cherries, entire cupcakes, marshmallows, lollipops, macarons, cakes and pastries, choco pies, M&Ms, Skittles, more candy and so on for a fulsome dose of culinary drama.
This is all we could find in our ardent exploration of the city for this divine creation, but we may have been slightly distracted along the way. There is a monstrous longing to discover more of these out there – otherwise, we may freak out!
Shweta has been writing about food for a few years now and has dabbled in TV, print and online journalism for over almost a decade. She has written on and edited for topics ranging from the environment, culture and lifestyle to politics, business and, of course, food. She has written for publications under the Times Group, Fox Life India and NDTV. When she's not devouring a good book or spending vast swathes of time on the Interweb, she loves to set off on all manner of culinary explorations.