"Sweet, pink apples topped with biscuit-like dumplings. This was my favorite dessert when I was a child, and I still love it. Fall is not fall if I don't make it. Serve it warm with ice cream or heavy cream."
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Grease a 9x12-inch baking dish. Arrange apple slices in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Stir 2 1/2 cups white sugar, water, and food coloring together in a saucepan; bring to a boil and cook until mixture reduces to a thick pink syrup, about 10 minutes. Pour syrup over apples.
Melt butter in the same saucepan over medium heat; stir 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon into butter until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture using two knives or a pastry cutter until mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Stir milk into shortening mixture until a soft dough comes together.
Drop dough by the tablespoonful over apples; lightly press the back of a spoon onto each "puff" of dough to form a small dent. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of butter-cinnamon-sugar mixture into each dent.
Bake in the preheated oven until dough puffs and apples are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.