Everyone has a favorite item in their kitchen. When I am baking I have several "go to" items that I couldn't live without. They make baking cupcakes not only easier, but more enjoyable. Here is my list of essential kitchen equipment when making cupcakes.
Stand Mixer: I was so lucky this past Christmas! My amazing hubby got me my dream gift - a red, 6-quart, professional KitchenAid stand mixer. I was so excited, you should have seen me! I took it out of the box right away so I could check it out. I mainly use my stand mixer for icings. While it can be used for making the batter as well, I find a hand mixer is easier for me. That brings me to my next essential item.
Hand Mixer: Mine is a cheap Hamilton Beach hand mixer with a case to hold all the attachments and store the cord. I believe I found it at Target for about $20. It's a lifesaver though and makes incorporating everything into the cupcake batter a piece of cake. No pun intended.
Mixing Bowls: I have a set of nesting glass mixing bowls as well as a large plastic one and a set of stainless steel as well. I usually use my plastic bowl as my main bowl and smaller glass ones for holding sifted ingredients or eggs. I don't use the stainless because the hand mixer leaves a lot of scratches on them. Just make sure that you clean a plastic bowl very well as it can absorb odors and flavors.
Measuring Cups and Spoons: I have a cheap set of dry ingredient cups and spoons from IKEA. It's fine to use cheap ones as long as you know they are accurate. A lot of cute ones (like heart shaped ones) don't always measure correctly. I also have a Measure-All cup from Pampered Chef. This is my favorite item for measuring liquid as well as tricky ingredients such as peanut butter, shortening and molasses. It pushes them out so that you get every last drop. I love it!
Spatula/Rubber Scraper: Okay, here is another Pampered Chef item. I have a large spatula that is slightly indented in the center so it can also spoon and scoop things. It is heat-safe to 400 degrees as well. You don't have to have something fancy. Just make sure you have one that works for you and that you take the time to scrape down your bowl several times. This way everything will be incorporated.
Muffin Tins and Cake Pans: You want to make sure you use quality pans when baking. They make your cupcakes brown and cook evenly at the correct temperature and in the right amount of time. I am a huge fan of Wilton products. All of my cake pans and muffin tins are from them. There are many other brands. Just shop around and make sure to get something good!
Decorating Items: Again, I use Wilton products for this. I prefer their Featherweight Decorating Bags because they are reusable. I have one cut to fit a large coupler as well as a small one. You don't need anything fancy! A zip top bag, an angled spatula or even a butter knife are fine. Just make sure you have something.