Shaved ice (also known as Piragua in Puerto Rico) is a classic dessert made with shaved ice and a sweet, usually fruity topping.
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While this post will teach you how to make any kind of shaved ice you like, this particular flavor is topped with a creamy coconut cinnamon topping.
For the Ice:
- 4 cups ice
For the Piragua Coconut Topping: (see note for options)
- ¼ cup sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon
See recipe card for quantities.
If you're anything like me, you've probably already researched buying an ice shaving machine.
While they are definitely out there and have glowing reviews, I'm here to tell you it's not a necessary tool in making this recipe.
As long as you own a good quality blender, you can shave your own ice without needing a new (giant and expensive) kitchen appliance.
I recommend investing in a great blender that will last the test of time and be a life saver for recipes like this.
Otherwise, you can use a food processor or a shaving tool specific for the job.
How to Make It
Prepare the topping. Whisk together the condensed milk with the coconut milk and cinnamon until smooth and creamy. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Shave the ice. Using a blender, food processor, or ice shaving machine, shave the ice until similar to snow in consistency.
Shaved ice will adopt whatever flavor you pour over it. Get creative with your favorite flavors and use what you have available in your fridge. Scroll for more ideas.
Serve. Fill cups with the shaved ice before pouring the coconut mix over top.
Tip: for a super smooth and creamy coconut topping, whip the coconut milk and condensed coconut milk with an immersion blender before combining.
The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to shaved ice toppings.
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Simple/Italian Syrups - us your favorite Italian syrup or make your own using equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or your favorite flavoring and cool before using.
- Fruit Compotes - stew your favorite fruits in a small saucepan with a bit of sugar, strain out the solids and cool before pouring the fruit reduction over the shaved ice.
- Creamsicles - riff off my recipe below and use coconut or heavy cream to create a creamsicle-type flavor profile. Use 1 part cream to 3 parts whatever syrup you like (orange, raspberry, Rootbeer, etc.).
- Keep it Light - keep the prep and clean up minimal and opt for a squeeze of your favorite fruit juice and a sprinkle of sugar (optional).
As always, I encourage you to start with what you have in your fridge. A lemon and a handful of berries can go a long way when stewed with a few spoonfuls of sugar!
Traditional Puerto Rican Piragua Toppings
Many of the traditional Puerto Rican piragua flavors are inspired by tropical fruit available on the island.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Coco - this is one of the most popular and for good reason! My recipe below is inspired by this classic topping flavor.
- China - an orange flavored topping
- Fresa - a sweet strawberry topping
While there are infinitely many Piragua flavors you can find accross the island, what makes gives this version of shaved ice that Puerto Rican signature is the distinctive pyramid shape.
Snow Cones vs. Shaved Ice
You may be wondering what is the difference between shaved ice and snow cones?
In general, snow cones are made up of larger pieces of ice, while shaved ice is known for it's snow-like texture.
There are desserts found all over the world that resemble this recipe.
In Puerto Rico we call it Piragua, but in Hawaii they call their Hawaiian rendition Kakigōri. Wherever you're enjoying it, shaved ice is easily distinguishable thanks to it's soft, light and fluffy texture.
Like most single serve frozen treats, shaved ice is best enjoyed fresh, before it melts!
If you're preparing this recipe for a crowd, prep the ice and the topping before hand, store separately for up to 5 days, and assemble when ready to serve.